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Climate Tech

Mike Cannon-Brookes backs new battery investment fund through his family VC Grok

- February 27, 2023 2 MIN READ
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Mike Cannon-Brookes
Atlassian cofounder and renewables advocate Mike Cannon-Brookes has backed a new fund to finance grid-scale battery projects via his family fund, Grok Ventures.

Canberra-based specialist fund manager Infradebt announced that Grok, JANA Diversified Infrastructure Trust and several existing family office clients had participated in the first close of its Infradebt Energy Transition Fund (ETF).

The fund will provide senior debt finance to 6-8 battery projects with a total capacity of 1.5-2GW over the next few years – amounting the power output of a large coal-fired power station.

Infradebt has financed 43 projects since its launch in 2014.

CEO Alexander Austin said finance from ETF will allow a more rapid roll out of battery projects.

“Infradebt is extremely pleased to have reached this important milestone for the Energy Transition Fund,” he said.

“Grid scale batteries, and energy storage more generally, is a key element to facilitating the orderly and rapid decarbonisation of the grid. Decarbonisation requires the rapid buildout of wind and solar and dispatchable grid scale storage to allow the matching of supply and demand on a 24x7x365 basis.”

The ETF’s first two investments are loans to the Neon Capital Battery and Genex’s Bouldercombe BESS.

The Neoen Capital Battery is a 100MW/200MWh battery project located on the outskirts of Canberra. Infradebt has provided a senior debt facility alongside the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The Genex Bouldercombe BESS is a 50MW/100MWh project located approximately 20km southwest of Rockhampton in Queensland. Both projects are currently under construction and are expected to begin operations in 2023.

Grok has supported Infradebt for 5 years, and this time 12 months ago, as Cannon-Brookes launched his battle for AGL with a $5 billion takeover bid, Grok poured $200 million into Infradebt for a minority stake supporting its ethical fund, IEF.  That fund has provided capital for 22 projects ranging from several solar and farms to a Queensland school and Victorian hospital. The fixed income fund has delivered an IRR of 6.7% since inception.

Grok CEO Jeremy Kwong-Law said they believe ETF will be another fund to deliver returns and accelerate decarbonisation of the grid.

“Since investing in Infradebt Ethical Fund back in 2017, we’ve closely observed Infradebt identifying gaps in the capital stack to accelerate Australia’s decarbonisation efforts, whilst providing solid risk adjusted returns,” he said.

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