Australia’s third-largest pension fund, Aware Super, has announced it will invest $2 billion into small-scale solar and battery installations in partnership with energy solutions company Birdwood Energy.
Aware Super manages $160 billion in assets, and it is initially funding $300 million into the partnership to finance distributed renewable energy projects.
The investment is expected to expand to $2 billion as more renewable energy projects become ready for financing.
Aware Super already has an extensive portfolio of large-scale wind and solar projects, and this announcement will diversify its reach in the clean energy space.
“We see tremendous opportunities in the renewable energy transition sector,” says Aware Super portfolio manager Jired Zhou.
“The reason not many institutional investors have done distributed energy is scale. Single projects are quite small, but the structure we’ve tried to set up is a platform at scale so we can more efficiently manage and invest.”
Birdwood Energy has already purchased two solar farms and battery energy solar systems in South Australia, with another 10 projects that are ready for construction on the radar nationwide.
The company’s focus is primarily on small projects between 30MW and 100MW.
“We believe we can roll out faster and cheaper to get the country to net zero,” Birdwood Energy managing partner Scott McGregor told Reuters.
“Others are doing this as well, but we want to do it on a big scale.
“Distributed energy is difficult for institutional investors to access due to the multitude of small developers and companies.
“While this sector offers the cheapest, most secure and cleanest energy system, it does require investment at scale to achieve capital and operating efficiencies, and to hit our net zero targets.
“With distributed energy, we are able to fulfil about 60 per cent of Australia’s future energy requirements.”