Zinc giant buys wind and solar developer in major green metals and hydrogen

The transaction is being completed through Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korean Zinc, and will give it access to an approximately 4,200 MW pipeline of early ‘phased’ wind and solar projects, primarily in Queensland, New Zealand. -South Wales and Tasmania, and potentially up to 4,800. MW more.

The purchase is an important decision and underscores the determination of some of the world’s largest metallurgical companies to switch to green products, moves that will surely drive the development of wind and solar projects in Australia and around the world.

Ark Energy has ambitious plans to use this wind and solar capacity to power up to 3.5 GW of electrolysers in Australia, starting with a household fireplace near the Sun Metals group’s zinc refinery in Townsville, where it will install first, a 1 MW electrolyser supplying green hydrogen to heavy fuel cell trucks.

“This is the start,” said Daniel Kim, CEO of Ark Energy, noting that the focus will be on green hydrogen in zinc processing, and other domestic supplies, followed by exports of zinc. green hydrogen towards the end of the decade.

“We are aiming for 3.5 GW of electrolysers, and we will need 8 GW of wind and solar power,” Kim told RenewEconomy. “This is where Epuron fits in. This is great news… it is a game changer. “

Yum B. Choi, vice chairman of Korea Zinc and chairman (and founder) of Ark Energy, said the company’s long-term ambition is to develop a new green energy export corridor from the Australia to South Korea.

“We will leverage our parent company’s strong balance sheet to extend Epuron’s existing business model and capitalize on the group’s internal demand from the production of green non-ferrous metals, and our own demand for green hydrogen production. , to accelerate the construction of Epuron’s development portfolio, ”he said.

The team led by Choi has been a central player in the evolution of large industrial companies towards renewables, having led the construction of the Sun Metals 124 MW solar farm next to the Sun Metals zinc refinery in Townsville, the first and still the largest integrated solar farm. in Australia.

He also pushed for switching to 5-minute settlement periods in the wholesale electricity market, after arguing that large utilities were destroying markets in the old system and driving up prices for wholesale and small customers. The new settlement period is seen as beneficial for batteries and demand management.

Ark Energy has also purchased a 30% stake in Acciona Energy’s 923 MW MacIntryre wind project in Queensland – the largest in the country – which is expected to be commissioned by 2025.

Epuron was founded 18 years ago by Andrew Durran and Martin Poole, and its first development approval was the Cullerin Range Wind Farm in New South Wales (pictured above), which went into operation in 2009 , and its most recent was issued for the Boulder Creek Wind Farm in central Queensland in October of this year.

Other projects are under development, including the Rye Park Wind Farm under construction by Tilt Renewables and the Silverton Wind Farm, and among its projects under development is the Western Plains Wind Project in Tasmania.

Its current portfolio also includes wind and solar projects in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, approximately 7 MW of fully contracted off-grid solar generation assets in the Northern Territory and a 50% stake in Fulcrum3D, a data company specializing in monitoring and forecasting renewable energy. sources of energy.

Epuron said it would continue – under the new ownership structure – to deliver around 5,860 MW of projects under existing Joint Development Agreements (JDAs) it has entered into with other counterparties.

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