European supermajor Shell has made its first wind investment in Australia, with its Australian subsidiary acquiring a 49% stake in onshore wind farm developer WestWind Energy.
Shell Energy Operations, Shell’s Australia-based renewables and energy solutions business, will obtain the stake for an undisclosed amount from the wind developer, which has a 3 gigawatt project pipeline across Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.
“Our first wind investment in Australia is a significant step in our goal to build a low-carbon integrated power business in Australia in-line with our customers' evolving energy needs,” Shell Australia country chair, Tony Nunan, said.
“This strategic partnership with WestWind complements Shell’s investments over recent years across large scale solar, carbon trading and power retailing, generation and trading.”
In a separate statement, WestWind said the new strategic partnership with Shell would be entirely focussed on future projects, noting its 1.2GW Golden Plains Wind Farm, which is scheduled to start construction this year in Victoria, would remain separately owned by WestWind with equity investor TagEnergy.
However, it said the partnership with Shell would allow it to deliver its existing 3GW pipeline of renewable capacity "significantly faster" than under its current development plan, while the pair intend to continue to grow WestWind's portfolio over the coming years.
“In partnership with Shell, we can accelerate our development of wind energy projects in Victoria and grow our NSW and Queensland portfolio," said WestWind managing director Tobias Geiger.
"We will now be able to grow our team to undertake a larger number of projects, and progress them faster."
While it marks Shell’s first Australian wind investment, the company had already established a low-carbon business in Australia, which includes supplying energy to commercial, industrial and residential customers; environmental services company Select Carbon; construction of the 120-megawatt Gangarri solar development in Queensland; home battery energy storage systems provider Sonnen Australia and energy retailer Powershop Australia.
Before the deal with WestWind, Shell had been rapidly expanding its wind portfolio, which includes projects offshore the US, Europe and South Korea, while it also has onshore wind assets in the US.
Shell was recently successful in its bid with ScottishPower for two sites off the east and north-east coast of Scotland, where the joint venture intends to build and operate two large-scale floating wind projects, named MarramWind and CampionWind, with a capacity of 3GW and 2GW, respectively.
Its 50:50 joint venture with EDF was also named the provisional winner of Block OCS-A 0541 in last month's US wind lease auction in the New York Bight, which could potentially support 1.5GW of commercial wind generation.