Windlab (ASX:WND) talks its wind power projects

Interviews

by Jessica Amir

Windlab Limited (ASX:WND) Executive Chairman & CEO, Roger Price talks energy projects, economics and storage.


Jessica Amir: Hi I’m Jessica Amir for the Finance News Network. Joining me now from Windlab Limited (ASX:WND) is Executive Chairman and CEO, Roger Price. Hi Roger and welcome.

Roger Price: Hi Jess, nice to be here.

Jessica Amir: Windlab is an international wind energy developer and operator. Can you give us an introduction to what you do and why it’s so unique?

Roger Price: We operate right across the life cycle of a wind farm, from identification, development, financing, construction and operation. We’re a little bit like an integrated commercial property developer, maybe a Lendlease Group (ASX:LLC) or a Peet Group (ASX:PPC) perhaps, but instead we do it across renewable energy. We were formed in 2003 as a spinout from the CSIRO, to commercialise a world leading set of atmospheric modelling and wind energy prediction tools, called WindScape. And we’ve used that now to develop a very large portfolio of development assets around the world.

Jessica Amir: Tell us a little bit more about your assets and your key projects?

Roger Price: We’ve got a development portfolio of some 50 projects, over 7,000 megawatts of capacity. And to give that some context, that’s nearly double all of the wind farms that currently operate in Australia today. We’ve developed some of the largest wind farms in Australia, notably Collgar in Western Australia, Coopers Gap in Queensland. But perhaps the most exciting project we’ve finished is our most recent, Kennedy Energy Park in far north Queensland. This is a 60-megawatt hybrid solution, it has wind, solar and battery storage, all in one location. And what this project is seeking to demonstrate is how renewable energy in the future, will be able to meet nearly all of our network demand going forward.

Jessica Amir: You listed just recently in August and you operate on the calendar year. But maybe you can tell us about some of the operational highlights that you’ve had so far?

Roger Price: When we listed the company, we set ourselves three immediate objectives. One was to complete the development of Coopers Gap wind farm with AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGL). The second was to finance and start construction of Kennedy Energy Park, and the third was to complete the construction of Kiata wind farm in Victoria.

Coopers Gap was financed in August, Kennedy in October and Kiata wind farm was connected to the electricity network, just at the beginning of this month. So we’ve completed the three major commitments we’ve made in our prospectus. And with that, we’re able to comfortably confirm that we will achieve our December 31 prospectus forecast.

Jessica Amir: A more general question now Roger. In 2016 Australian wind farms produced 30 per cent of Australia’s clean energy and five per cent of Australia’s total energy. What does the future hold and where does that put you guys?

Roger Price: Wind energy today is now the cheapest form of new electricity generating technology you can build. It’s cheaper than solar, it’s cheaper than gas and it’s dramatically cheaper than new coal. The world’s acknowledged this and themarch to renewables is inevitable. Since 2015, more money has been spent globally on wind and solar, than all other forms of generating technology put together.

So as we move forward, we will see wind and solar meet most of the new demand around the world. In Australia we have aged coal fleet, much of it approaching 50 years of age and a dramatic need to reduce our emissions intensity.We’ve seen a significant amount of that capacity decommissioned already and by 2030, a third of our coal fleet will be turned off. Now what will replace that capacity is wind and solar, because it is fundamentally the cheapest.

Jessica Amir: Last question now Roger. Where would you like to see the company in a few years from now?

Roger Price: Over the last seven years we’ve completed nearly 1,100 megawatts of capacity, with our partners. Now much of that we have sold to generate the cash we’ve needed to continue to grow the business. But now being a listed vehicle with a much stronger balance sheet, what we seek to do over the next three to five years, is to complete the development of around 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts of capacity. In doing that, we will hang on to ownership of a lot larger percentage than we previously have. And through doing that, we would expect to increase our interest in operating capacity over the next three to five years, by nearly tenfold. So with that, we’ll see continued significant revenue and profit growth with the company.

Jessica Amir: Roger Price, thank you so much for the update.

Roger Price: Thanks very much Jess.


Ends

Jessica Amir

Finance News Network
Jessica is a senior finance journalist and presents the Market Outlook, Market at Midday and Market Wrap. She also presents ASX company news and interviews CEOs. She joined FNN in January 2017 with six years of broadcast journalism experience. She worked as a journalist and producer with Sky News Business, ABC 1, ABC's The Business and ABC24. She also worked in regional Australia for Prime 7 and WIN News as a TV reporter. In her prior life she worked as a financial planner.