Forrest snaps up renewable energy operator CWP Renewables

Forrest snaps up renewable energy operator CWP Renewables

Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest

Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s Squadron Energy is set to become one of the nation’s largest renewable energy operators after acquiring CWP Renewables (CWP) for a reported $4 billion today.

Squadron Energy is part of Tattarang - a private investment company founded by Forrest and his wife Nicola, which has also offloaded capital to help fund the world’s largest solar storage and transmission system, as well as high-capacity fibre infrastructure provider FibreconX.

The acquisition comes a few days after Origin Energy (ASX: ORD) and its Canadian pension fund partner Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) dropped out of the bidding war for CWP, which also included Spanish energy giant Iberdrola and Tilt Renewables.

The deal, which is worth more than $4 billion according to the AFR, will see CWP integrate into Squadron’s existing business, including its majority ownership of Windlab – an asset manager that oversees $1 billion of renewable energy projects in Australia, Southern Africa, USA, and Canada.

Once fully operational, Squaron’s portfolio will provide enough electricity to power 8.5 million homes - more than double the number of homes in NSW.

Forrest said Squadron was now positioned to ensure Australia could accelerate the development of renewable energy, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the process.

“Squadron is proud to bring a very significant portion of Australia’s renewable energy assets home to local ownership. It means that Squadron has the renewable energy critical mass to help Australia step beyond fossil fuels,” Forrest said.

"Australian industries’ ability to consign fossil fuel to history is robustly demonstrated by the strong track record and commitment of Fortescue Metals, Fortescue Future Industries and other world-leading companies committed to decarbonising.

“We share a vision of Australia and the world, looking back on the dark era of fossil fuel as an aberration in humanity’s history. One that could have ended with that fuel, but is now powered by cheap, pollution-free, democratic, inexhaustible energy.”

Founded in 2007, Sydney-based CWP is a vertically integrated renewables energy business that spans wind, solar and battery farms, and provides renewable energy to Transurban, Woolworths Group (ASX: WOW), Sydney Airport, Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) and Snowy Hydro.

It currently operates more than 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of wind assets in Victoria and NSW, including Sapphire Wind Farm - the largest in NSW - which has 75 turbines generating up to 270 megawatts (MW), as well as Murra Warra wind farms with a combined 435MW and Crudine Ridge, which has 37 wind turbines and generates 142MW.

It has approvals in place to construct four more wind farms in NSW totalling over 750MW, along with a construction-ready 414MW wind farm, 180MW solar farm, two battery farms and a firming power station capable of using hydrogen, biofuels and hydrogen gas blends.

Squadron Energy CEO Eva Hanly said the company had the experience, people, agility and scale to meet the huge demand for green energy from large commercial and industrial customers.

“When large industrial and commercial customers come to us, they are looking for efficient and firmed renewable power at scale. With this acquisition, we will develop and operate an extensive geographic portfolio of night and daytime wind, solar and storage assets that will ensure reliability of supply for our customers,” Hanly said.

“The sooner we can get renewable energy at scale into the grid, the more quickly prices will come down for consumers. We are very focused on using our scale and smarts to ensure we are the leader, by a significant margin, in delivering the lowest produced cost of firm renewable energy to market.

“We have a team of passionate and dedicated people who are working towards a common goal of wanting to stop Australia’s carbon emissions. We are looking forward to working with the incredible talent that is in CWP to do more game-changing projects.”

Squadron was advised by Highbury Partnership as its financial advisor and Clayton Utz as its legal advisor.

“It is paramount that Australia continues to increase cost-efficient renewable green energy, to economically power homes and industry at pace and rid the Australian consumer of its forced reliance to increasingly expensive, dangerously pollutive fossil fuels,” Forrest said.

“We are committed to ensuring that Australians benefit from the rising employment opportunities, and massive investment in the renewable energy sector.

“The new jobs, manufacturing and training opportunities, particularly in regional areas, are so important to making sure generations of Australians benefit across the nation.”

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