Octopus Group will partner with Aboriginal Australian communities on plans for renewable energy projects that it forecasts could attract investments of as much as A$50 billion ($36 billion) over 10 years.
The Desert Springs Octopus venture would aim to export clean energy from northern Australia to space-constrained nations including Singapore and Japan, which have challenges in developing wind and solar capacity. Plans could also involve hydrogen production, water infrastructure and agricultural projects, the Northern Territory Indigenous Business Network and Octopus Australia unit said in a statement.
Winning the backing of Aboriginal Australians is crucial for developments across northern Australia, where Indigenous groups hold rights over vast areas of land, and with heightened investor scrutiny of community relations following mining giant Rio Tinto Group’s destruction of ancient heritage sites in 2020.
Indigenous communities have faced difficulties for decades in leveraging land rights into economic advancement, and sectors including renewable energy and carbon abatement offer strong prospects for development, Australian lawmakers said in a January report.
Octopus and partners will join a crowded field of developers seeking to use Australia’s sunny and windy climate, and vast empty spaces, to meet rising global demand for clean energy and green hydrogen. A proposed renewable energy zone in New South Wales has received expressions of interest worth more than A$100 billion, authorities said this week, while the planned Western Green Energy Hub would use an area about half the size of Belgium for wind and solar.
Desert Springs Octopus projects would seek funding from both Octopus and other investors, and involve Indigenous groups holding equity stakes. Octopus Australia has invested about A$1 billion in renewables in the nation since 2018.
–With assistance from Rachel Morison.© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.