Hydro Tasmania and leading Chinese energy company Shenhua have signed a strategic co-operation agreement in Beijing.
Hydro Tasmania chairman Dr David Crean and Shenhua Group Corporation chairman Zhang Xiwu signed the agreement on behalf of the two businesses on April 9, 2013.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard participated in the signing ceremony as part of her six-day trade mission to China. The Premier of China, Li Keqiang, also took part in the ceremony.
Dr Crean said the strategic agreement builds upon the excellent relationship that has developed between Hydro Tasmania and Shenhua in the past few years, with respect to Australian wind farm development.
“This follows on from the Roaring 40s joint venture involving Shenhua subsidiary Guohua and Hydro Tasmania from 2007 to 2009 where several wind farms were jointly constructed and managed in China,” Dr Crean said.
In February this year the Shenhua Group acquired, through its subsidiary Shenhua Clean Energy Holdings, a 75 per cent stake in the Musselroe Wind Farm. Musselroe is currently being built by Hydro Tasmania in north-east Tasmania and is expected to be fully operational by July 2013. That agreement follows the prior acquisition by the Shenhua Group of a 75 per cent stake in the Woolnorth wind farms (Bluff Point and Studland Bay) in north-west Tasmania in 2011.
Hydro Tasmania retains a 25 per cent share in both the Musselroe and Woolnorth wind farms and manages and operates them on behalf of the partnership.
Dr Crean said the relationship between Shenhua and Hydro Tasmania is also significant because it is the first investment by a Chinese company in renewable energy generation in Australia.
“It demonstrates Australia’s trading and investment relationship with China is a two-way street. Hydro Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government have been fostering both directions over the past six years,” Dr Crean said.
Hydro Tasmania chief executive officer Roy Adair said the strategic cooperation agreement will guide the two businesses as they work on plans to develop, build and operate a further 700MW of wind farms in Australia by 2020, with a total estimated investment of $1.6 billion.
“Shenhua is a first-class strategic partner for Hydro Tasmania and for the state,” Mr Adair said.
“The company is one of the world’s largest wind developers and brings a wealth of expertise in the renewable energy sector and a strong interest in working with us on other renewable energy projects.”
Shenhua Group is a world-leading coal-based integrated energy company with businesses encompassing coal production, rail and marine transport, power generation and renewable energy. Shenhua Group’s wholly owned renewable energy business, Guohua Energy Investment (Guohua), is one of the largest wind energy businesses globally. Guohua owns and operates more than 4000MW of wind assets in China.