By Celine Lai
Business Insider reported on 23 February that just days after a first attempt $5 million takeover bid for energy giant AGL, Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes has committed further to a global fund targeting the Australian coal industry. The investment in privately held Infradebt, a major financier of renewables and battery storage, was made through Cannon-Brookes’ private fund Grok Ventures.
The backing of Infradebt is part of a wider strategy to ensure enough renewables and storage is built to enable Cannon-Brookes’ plan to close AGL’s coal generators and accelerate the transition to net zero emissions by 2035.
Alexander Austin, chief executive of Infradebt, told RenewEconomy that batteries were a key part of transitioning Australia’s energy networks.
Cannon-Brookes’ move, in partnership with Brookfield, represents another major play for control of the country’s green energy transition, which the tech billionaire has argued is progressing too slowly.
While the board of AGL released a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange saying it had knocked back the unsolicited bid of $7.50 a share because it undervalued the company, the play has reopened the conversation around Grok’s plans to accelerate renewables in Australia.
The above information is extracted from Business Insider Australia here.
Brookes-Cannon is funding the Sun Cable solar and battery project. It is set to create around 1,500 construction jobs and 350 ongoing operational jobs, while pumping around $8 billion in investment into northern Australia.
“The fundamental truth about AGL is that as a company it remains rooted in the past, which is why its shares have fallen so fast, so quickly.
Its plan to split into two – a green and a dirty AGL – is a way of holding on to that past for longer and is likely to destroy even more shareholder value.
That is why this bid is so exquisitely timed, coming before the split and as AGL grudgingly chops a few years off the life of the coal fuelled electricity generators it spent so much money acquiring.
So, the faster AGL can phase out its coal power generators at the same time as it is installing replacement solar and wind projects and energy storage, the more money the company can make.”
On 7 March, Renew Economy reported that the short-sighted AGL turned down Cannon-Brooke’s bid of $8 million, but that move has changed the conversation in Australia over energy forever.
The part in quotes below is from Renew Economy.
“Andrew Forrest, the iron ore billionaire, is a partner with Cannon-Brookes in the massive, world leading Sun Cable solar and battery project in the Northern Territory. And he has continued with his remarkable string of announcements regarding renewable energy in Australia.
State Governments are taking action too. Read this report here about what South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria are doing. This all speaks to the quickening of the renewable transition to a speed not contemplated until recently, when the Australian Energy Market Operator released its Integrated System Plan, with forecasts for all brown coal to stop generation by 2032, and perhaps all coal generation in the country to be closed by then.
One of the major outcomes from Cannon-Brooke’s bids and other parties moving decisively toward renewable energy is the realization that an accelerated transition to renewables will not result in unreliable and more expensive energy, as the conservatives and the naysayers (and Australia’s federal Coalition government) insist.
In fact, it will do the opposite.
AGL, and some other fossil fuel legacy companies will trade on the fact that the short term outlook for its share price looks promising, partly due to the global tragedies that are causing oil, gas and coal prices to leap to unprecedented levels.”
Capitalising upon the misfortune of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is unethical and short-sighted. Meanwhile the European Union seeks to boost renewables and energy efficiency as fast as technically possible.
There is a global call for reliance upon gas and oil to be wound down. An analysis has found that it is possible for Europe to get off Russian gas without increasing coal or oil use.
More gas is not needed in Australia as it can be replaced by truly green energy, including green hydrogen.
Gas is not a suitable transition fuel, given the alternatives, and that is why the International Energy Agency has said there should be NO new gas projects!
Meanwhile, the Morrison government continues to promise huge subsidies to the gas industries.
And in Western Australia, the Premier Mark McGowan fully supports Woodside’s proposed Scarborough gas field which will be responsible for emitting 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
This is an astonishing short-sightedness and refusal by the federal and Western Australian state governments to acknowledge the indisputable fact that we all need to get to net zero emissions as fast as possible.
No new gas, as clearly mandated by the International Energy Agency, means no Scarborough gas project in Western Australia!
Oil and gas prices going up temporarily is not a good reason to indulge in a new gas project, unless you are short-sighted, a denialist of the gravity of climate change, and possibly greedy.
Are you ready to join the movement to pressure our governments and the gas and coal industries into choosing ethical and climate supporting options?
Please commit to help stopping the monstrous polluting and destructive Scarborough gas project by getting active with 350 Borloo Perth.
Let’s show the W.A. Premier and Woodside that they have no trust from us in representing our interests by refusing to transition rapidly and comprehensively to alternatives.
The easiest route (business as usual) is not the best one, and shifting blame for things is neither mature nor a trait that our leaders should have.
While it is encouraging that individuals with money are supporting renewable energy activities, we need everyone on board to raise awareness that Woodside’s Scarborough gas project must not go ahead.
This massive proposal is counter-intuitive to phasing in renewable energy systems using Australia’s plentiful renewable energy resources.
Can we count you and people you know in to say no to Scarborough gas?