Five firms team up for groundbreaking clean energy project

Upon completion, the project will be Australia's largest integrated solar and battery facilities

Five firms team up for groundbreaking clean energy project

Five leading firms are guiding the way in major clean energy project in Australia.

MinterEllison, DLA Piper, Ashurst, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF), and Hall & Wilcox are all involved in Victoria’s Energy Storing Initiative (ESI), which will create the largest integrated solar and battery facilities in the country. Once completed, the Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) and the Ballarat Energy Storage System (BESS) will also be among the largest facilities of their kind in the world.

For the GESS, a 25MW/50MWh Tesla battery is being integrated with the Gannawarra Solar Farm. The second battery is a 30MW/30MWh Tesla system that will be integrated into the grid at the Ballarat Terminal Station.

The GESS and BESS are due to be completed this year. The deals for the systems closed late last month.

MinterEllison is acting for Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on the ESI. It has assisted the authority in navigating the complex energy regulatory landscape for uptake of energy storage technologies at the national and state levels. It has also advised DELWP in the bidder consortium arrangements with network service providers, the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Australian Energy Regulator and the Victorian Essential Services Commission.

“This is a first-of-its-kind project in Victoria, with many unique challenges and opportunities for our team and the department,” said partner Kylie Diwell, who led the MinterEllison team.

The firm also helped bring together key resources to manage multiple workstreams in a highly time-pressured environment, including working collaboratively with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), she said.

“It's been a great experience working with the department's team as they harness the great potential of battery technologies to move Victoria to a more reliable and clean energy system,” Diwell said.

The partner was supported by senior associate Darshini Nanthakumar. Partner Peter Block also provided advice.

DLA Piper
DLA Piper was tapped by ARENA, which invested $25m each into the GESS and the BESS projects. Matching investments were made by the state government. The firm advised on the funding agreements, ancillary funding documents, and legal due diligence on the project documents.

Finance and projects partner Kate Papailiou heads the DLA Piper team, with support from special counsel Sarah Lynden-Bell and solicitors Emily John and Rebecca Dunlop.

“As always, it is exciting to work alongside ARENA on these early market projects that consider, challenge and advance commercial and regulatory thinking as new battery configurations and structures are worked through and brought to market,” Papailiou said. “We look forward to hearing of the successful commissioning of these Projects and seeing the contribution they make to Victoria’s and ARENA’s objectives.”

Ashurst is acting for Edify Energy, developer and financier of the Gannawarra project. Underpinned by a long-term agreement with EnergyAustralia, the first long-term commercial services agreement with EnergyAustralia, the project provides a bankable commercial model for future retrofit and combined renewable and storage facilities, the firm said.

Ashurst lead partner Paul Newman said that the project will pioneer a new era of integrated renewable and energy storage facilities.  The firm advised on all aspects of the GESS, including the project and regulatory structuring arrangements; the battery sale and purchase agreement and associated warranty and servicing regimes; the construction, operation and maintenance of balance of plant systems; and the long-term offtake and operational arrangements with EnergyAustralia.

Newman was assisted by partner Tanya Denning, counsel Teresa Scott, senior associate Dale Gill and lawyers Tristan Shepherd, Tim Rankin and Eliza Brierley of the firm’s corporate projects – utilities group; partner Mark Disney, senior associate Laura van den Berg, senior associate Melissa Molloy with lawyer Craig Sherritt of the infrastructure practice; senior associate Carol Kahler and lawyer Michelle Tesch from the real estate team; and counsel Emma Butler and senior associate Caroline Hogan of the firm’s IP group.

Norton Rose Fulbright
NRF is the counsel of WIRCON, owners of Wirsol Energy. Wirsol is financing the GESS in a consortium with Edify Energy.

“It is great to see Wirsol, along with ARENA and the Victorian Government, support this important addition to the state’s future energy security mix. Our team was also pleased to deliver yet another important Australian renewable energy project, and to continue to develop its energy storage capability,” lead partner Simon Currie said.

Currie, who is the firm’s global head of energy, was supported in Sydney by partner Raymond Lou, special counsel Claire Forster, and associates Chris Sewry and Tom Bramah.

NRF recently advised on the Lakedland integrated facility in Queensland. It is also currently working on 30 large-scale solar projects across the country.

Hall & Wilcox
Hall & Wilcox is the legal adviser of AusNet, owner and operator of Victoria’s electricity transmission network. AusNet is part of the consortium responsible for the BESS, which includes Spotless, Energy Australia, and Fluence.

“This is an emerging technology and a first for Victoria, which makes it both exciting and challenging as there is very little precedent,” said lead partner Paul O’Donnell. “This battery technology is not anticipated in the current energy regulatory environment, which meant there were many issues to consider for the project.”

Projects partner Mark Dessi, special counsel Mark Richards, and paralegal Lorraine Ng are also part of the Hall & Wilcox team.

The group had to combine their knowledge of new technologies with the complex energy environment to identify key issues and deliver a strong result for AusNet, said O’Donnell.

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