UPC Renewables moves into Australia: Interview with Chairman Brian Caffyn

And you have to figure out getting final planning permission, all of the construction arrangements and then packaging, financing of debt and raising equity. If you have the mentality you’re going to be in the business long-term, then you care a lot more about all the decisions along the way.”

UPC’s competitive edge is that it’s smaller than the large independents and big utilities, and has the ability to bring in low cost equipment and financing and handles its own construction and operations management and as a long term owner commits to staying with projects rather than just selling out at the end of development.

” That was a big deal for us,” he says, “because we had other investors, who were not really allowing us to grow the business properly, so we had to take them out and bring EDF in.”

UPC, led by UPC Group Chairman, Brian Caffyn— who founded the company– developed more than 50 wind farms and 20 solar projects in countries including Italy, the US, Indonesia, Morocco, China, Canada, Vietnam, India and the Philippines, UPC Renewables has finally launched Down Under.

Brian Caffyn, UPC Chairman with Ignasius Jonan, Indonesia Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources

” We’ve got a decent shot of getting planning permission within 18 months and then it’s really down to, ‘are we going to be able to sell the power into Tasmania or are we going to need to have a second connector before we start delivering the power?’ Either one of those options is going to take some transmission work. There’s some onshore work in Tasmania that needs to be done, then the whole programming for the undersea cable.”

In Indonesia, it has the 75MW Sidrap Wind Farm in South Sulawesi in construction, which is the country’s first utility scale wind farm which consists of 30 Gamesa G114 2.5 MW turbines and is scheduled to begin selling power to PLN when it goes live near the end of this year.

He claims UPC is eyeing at least six more new projects over the next 18 months in Australia and Indonesia and while each country has its own set of challenging circumstances, Caffyn says it’s really a matter of coming up with imaginative or different ways of doing things.

The leading energy player develops, finances, constructs, operates a portfolio and owns of wind power generation assets as an IPP (Independent Power Producer) and its Australian arm went live in June.

Connecticut-born Caffyn has spent the last few years living between Indonesia and the Philippines, but has moved to Australia to ensure things move quickly.

” We are focusing on solar in a large number of countries in Southeast Asia. India and Vietnam are two of them, Vietnam also looks like a good wind market over the medium term. “In Indonesia, there’s only one utility– PLN,” he says.

” In Australia, as an example,” he adds, “it was a power contract market, meaning that nobody was really building anything unless they had a power contract. Recently it’s moved into more of a merchant market.”

” That took a lot of work,” he explains, “because we had to educate the government and utility (PLN) about how Wind works. Having negotiated the first power contract for wind, Caffyn explains. “We’re hoping to get three more projects into construction in Indonesia, which would be close to 100 MW in total in 2018.”

“It’s very different than looking at it and saying, ‘it may not happen but I’m going to assume that I own this thing for 20 years’. In Australia, a lot of developers do the front-end development work– permitting, permissions and stuff– then they try to sell it to somebody who takes the next step.

” You have private parties with more potential different players, but you also might have a state government giving you a long-term contract for differences.”

Its first project is to develop one of the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farms at Robbins Island and Jims Plain in Tasmania. The projects, once built, will cost between $1.0 bn and $1.6 bn and boast an aggregated output potential of between 600 megawatts (MW) and 1,000 MW of wind energy potential. This is a nice addition to the company’s 3,500+ MWs of renewable energy and $6.6 bn capital that’s been deployed across three continents over the last 21 years.

” The Australian opportunity is really quite big, both in wind and solar energy,” says Caffyn. “We typically look at three to five-year cycles from the start of our Greenfield projects in wind.

Brian Caffyn says UPC is agnostic on the technology, using “whichever wind turbine or solar panel which happens to be the best and most economical at the time”, and prides itself on supplying renewable energy at the best price possible in a socially responsible way. In China, UPC is constructing the Feicheng Wind Project 50MW and Kangping II and III Wind Project 98MW.

The company is expanding rapidly in Southeast Asia and has just launched in Vietnam and India. In India UPC just became an owner of two in construction solar projects totally almost 100MW Dc which are the first projects for its regional solar initiative.

Its first project is to develop one of the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farms at Robbins Island and Jims Plain in Tasmania. The projects, once built, will cost between $1.0 bn and $1.6 bn and boast an aggregated output potential of between 600 megawatts (MW) and 1,000 MW of wind energy potential. “We typically look at three to five-year cycles from the start of our Greenfield projects in wind. Caffyn says UPC is agnostic on the technology, using “whichever wind turbine or solar panel which happens to be the best and most economical at the time”, and prides itself on supplying renewable energy at the best price possible in a socially responsible way. In China, UPC is constructing the Feicheng Wind Project 50MW and Kangping II and III Wind Project 98MW.

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