Macquarie Group, one of the biggest players in financing renewable energy developments in Europe and the US, has made its biggest push into its domestic market with an equity stake in the new Murra Warra wind project in Victoria.
The 226MW first stage of Murra Warra – located some 30kms from Horsham – is already a landmark deal for Australia because it is the biggest, to date, enabled by corporate buyers; in this case a consortium of companies led by Telstra.
Macquarie has now put its hand up for an equity stake, along with developer RES Australia, and has also committed to developing the 203MW second stage of the project.
Debt financing of approximately $320 million has been secured for Stage One through a consortium consisting of ANZ, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Westpac.
Telstra announced in December that it had secured a long-term contract for the output from Murra Warra, heading a consortium that included ANZ, Coca Cola Amatil and the University of Melbourne.
It described the price then as “stunning”, and is believed to be in line with the also stunning sub-$55/MWh price negotiated by Origin Energy earlier this year for the 530MW Stockyard Hill.
Matt Rebbeck, the CEO of RES Australia said the Murra Warra wind farm would be one of the highest performing wind farms in the southern hemisphere, which would explain its cost competitiveness.
The involvement of Macquarie signals its biggest commitment to a green-fields development in Australia, after emerging as one of the biggest players internationally, and taking ownership of UK’s Green Investment Bank.
It has invested approximately $2.5 billion in green energy globally since 2011 across onshore renewables – including solar – offshore wind, biomass and waste to energy, and battery storage. In 2017, Macquarie Capital was the number one-ranked global renewables project finance financial adviser.
Chris Voyce, co-head of infrastructure, utilities and renewables at Macquarie Capital, said Murra Warra was an important greenfield energy project that helped increase and diversify the supply of electricity.
“Achieving financial close means Stage One of Murra Warra is now fully funded, and with the PPAs signed in late 2017, there are guaranteed customers for the clean energy that will be generated.
“This demonstrates a market for clean electricity in Australia, and has given the local community certainty over the economic benefits of the project.”
Murra Warra’s first stage will comprise 61 turbines and will employ 150 people during construction. Pre-construction works have already begun, with turbines to be supplied by Senvion and Downer winning the construction contract.
It is expected to be fully operational by mid 2019.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.