Buyout puts wind in sails of renewable energy projects
THE prospects for stalled renewable projects in North Queensland have been energised by iron ore billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest leading a buyout of struggling wind farm developer Windlab.
Windlab has announced the $1 a share offer by a consortium involving Mr Forrest's Squadron Wind Energy Development and private equity fund Federation Asset Management.
The conditional buyout values Windlab at just over $68 million.
Mr Forrest said they were pleased to be part of a consortium investing in Windlab.
"The unique technical capabilities of the team and the strong portfolio of project opportunities give Windlab a leading position in wind generation in Australia," he said.
Federation's head of renewable energy, Stephen Panizza, said they had experience in renewables and the capital needed to develop the full potential of Windlab's portfolio.
Windlab has been active in North Queensland, with a $160 million hybrid pilot plant developed at Hughenden involving wind turbines at night and solar panels during the day. It is also backed by battery storage.
But the commissioning of the plant, with construction completed last year, is understood to have been delayed by changes to regulation as well as transmission constraints.
Windlab has since been embroiled in a multimillion-dollar contractual dispute with the project's contractors.
Early last year, Windlab announced the shelving of a larger $2 billion wind farm project at Hughenden, citing a lack of "meaningful advice" from the State Government over its planned Clean Energy Hub transmission project.
Windlab also struck delays over another North Queensland wind farm project at Lakeland with financiers Infrared Capital Partners withdrawing and citing an inability to price risks associated with grid connection.
The buyout of Windlab is expected in late June, subject to conditions including shareholder approval.