Bright future for investors in Aussie solar farm

Pendal and Regnan investors helped finance this solar farm in Nyngan, NSW. Pic: Getty

AUSTRALIA was once famous for “riding on the sheep’s back”. But some of the land trodden by woolly livestock now supports new, sustainable industries such as renewable energy.

A former sheep paddock near the central NSW town of Nyngan has been transformed into one of the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest solar farms.

AGL installed more than 1.3 million solar panels on the flat land here to create a 102-megawatt solar plant which became operational in 2015.

Ideally positioned to receive strong, constant solar radiation, the Nyngan Solar Farm is expected to generate about 230,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable electricity each year — enough to power some 43,000 average Australian households.

The plant is partly financed by investors in Regnan Credit Impact Trust and Pendal Sustainable Australian Fixed Interest Fund.

Attractive returns and positive impact

Regnan is a global fund manager offering “impact investment” strategies that aim for strong returns while also making a positive impact in the community. Regnan is part of ASX-listed investment manager Pendal Group.

Regnan Credit Impact Trust and Pendal Sustainable Australian Fixed Interest Fund invest in a range of green and social bonds including Westpac’s Climate Bonds. These bonds help finance clean energy projects — including AGL’s Nyngan solar plant — at low rates and on good terms.

The result is “pretty amazing” says Richard Armstrong, AGL’s Asset Leader NSW and Queensland for Wind and Solar.

“It’s a very reliable asset,” Mr Armstrong says. “It hasn’t skipped a beat since it was first built.

“We’ve actually got a viewing platform which gives you a good view over the 1.3 million panels. You can’t really see the end of it once you’re standing on the platform. It looks like an ocean — all those solar panels.

“I think for the town of Nyngan it’s a really positive investment and a positive project. We do a fair bit with the community.”

Climate bonds that support clean energy 

Solar power is booming in Australia. When it was built, the AGL-operated Nyngan plant was the biggest solar farm in the Southern Hemisphere.

But there are now some eight or nine bigger solar farms in the Southern Hemisphere that have been completed, commissioned or are under construction, Mr Armstrong says.

Every hour the sun delivers more power to the Earth than the entire world consumes in a year. Unlike fossil fuels it’s an unlimited source of clean energy.

“Australia’s got some unique challenges in terms of our size and moving electricity from the outback to the population centres, but the resource the sun provides is certainly abundant,” Mr Armstrong says.

By investing in such renewable energy projects such as Nyngan Solar Farm, climate bonds do more than generate millions of megawatt hours of clean energy. They aid the global effort towards a zero net emission outcome by 2050.

Besides the Nyngan solar plant, Regnan Credit Impact Trust and Pendal Sustainable Australian Fixed Interest Fund help finance a variety of projects that make a positive impact in the community while generating attractive returns.

These include sustainable projects (such as wind farms, green buildings, low-carbon transport and clean water solutions) and social bonds that lend money on good terms to community housing providers, schools and micro-businesses.

About Regnan

Regnan is a responsible investment leader with a long and proud history of providing insight and advice to investors with an interest in long-term, broad-based or values-aligned performance.

Building on that expertise, in 2019 Regnan expanded into responsible investment funds management, backed by the considerable resources of Pendal Group.

For more information about Regnan Credit Impact Trust, please contact Head of Regnan and Responsible Investment Distribution Jeremy Dean at jeremy.dean@regnan.com or Regnan Chief Operating Officer Lisa Boyce at lisa.boyce@regnan.com.

About Pendal

Pendal is an independent, global investment management business focused on delivering superior returns for our clients through active management.

Pendal’s Bond, Income and Defensive Strategies team is one of the most experienced and well-regarded in Australia, managing some $22 billion invested across income, composite, pure alpha, global and Australian government strategies.

Find out more about Pendal’s fixed interest strategies including Pendal Sustainable Australian Fixed Interest Fund.

Contact a Pendal key account manager.

This document has been prepared by Pendal Institutional Limited (Pendal) ABN 17 126 390 627, AFSL No 316455 and the information contained within is current as at 27 November 2020. This document is for general information purposes only, should not be considered as a comprehensive statement on any matter and should not be relied upon as such. It has been prepared without taking into account any recipient’s personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, recipients should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness having regard to their individual objectives, financial situation and needs. This information is not to be regarded as a securities recommendation. The information in this document may contain material provided by third parties, is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate as at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, and while all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information in this document is complete and correct, to the maximum extent permitted by law neither Pendal nor any company in the Pendal Group accepts any responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of this information.

Pendal is the responsible entity and issuer of units in the Regnan Credit Impact Trust ARSN: 638 304 220 (the Fund). An Information Memorandum is available for the Fund (IM) and can be obtained by calling 1800 813 886 or visiting www.pendalgroup.com. You should obtain and consider the IM before deciding whether to acquire, continue to hold or dispose of units in the Fund. An investment in the Fund is subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment