Italian billionaires buy into renewable developer behind Australia’s biggest wind farm

The Agnelli family, which founded the Fiat motor company and owns a majority stake in Ferrari and the Juventus football club, has become a major investor in renewable and storage developer TagEnergy, currently building Australia’s biggest wind and battery project.[1]

TagEnergy is constructing the first stage of the 1.3GW Golden Plains wind farm in Victoria, and intends to start the second stage by the end of the year, along with a 300MW big battery, with up to two hours of storage, takin[2]g the project’s total value to $3 billion.

The company has quickly built up a 12GW development portfolio in just four years, and is now backed by four of Europe’s richest families and investment companies.

TagEnergy is headed by Franck Woitiez, the former head of the Australian operations of French renewable and storage developer Neoen. It was initially backed by the family of French billionaire Jacques Veyrat, whose Impala Investment is also a major shareholder in Neoen.

Under the deal announced on Wednesday, the Agnelli family’s listed vehicle Exor, valued at €34 billion, will join forces with the Paris-based Impala and create a new holding company TagHolding that will become the biggest single shareholder in TagEnergy.

The two families will initially inject €300 million into TagEnergy to accelerate its already rapid development in key markets such as Australia, the UK, Portugal (its home base) and other European countries.

“It is truly amazing to have the Agnelli family involved in TagEnergy, along with the Veyrat family,” Woitiez told RenewEconomy.

“We have the support of two big players, two family offices with a reputation for long term commitments. And Australia is a big part of it … we will likely have more than 60 per cent invested in Australia.”

TagEnergy aims to have 5GW of wind, solar and battery storage in operation or under construction by 2027 in Australia and Europe. In Australia, it is also developing the Mt Fox renewable hub near Townsville in Queensland,[3] which will include a 300MW/600MWh battery and a wind farm of up to 400MW.

“Having both Impala and Exor as partners and shareholders, alongside Mirova and Omnes, will bring us additional financial means to execute and accelerate on our strategic priorities and drive the pace of the energy transition through projects that deliver reliable energy affordably, and at scale,” Woitiez said.

Mirova has more than €28 billion under management while Omnes has more than €5 billion. tagEnergy also recently closed a €570 million green bond raising from Denmark’s Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Singapore’s GIC.

“At Impala, we have been supporting TagEnergy from the very beginning as we firmly believe in their hands-on, entrepreneurial approach to developing and investing directly in the renewable energy markets,” Veyrat said in a statement.

Exor CEO John Elkann says the company, which is also a major shareholder in Ferrari, European car giant Stellantis (which includes the Fiat brand), CNH Industrial, Juventus FC, Iveco Group, and The Economist, has increased its focus on environment issues and the energy transition in particular.

“As large sectors of the economy become increasingly electrified, the development of renewable, carbon-free sources of electricity is more necessary than ever,” Elkann said.

“This will be coupled with a growing need to store intermittently-generated energy and stabilise grids that were previously designed around more centralised and controllable production centres.”

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