Australia blocks Chinese investment in power grid
Australia’s government has made a preliminary decision to block bids from two Chinese companies for a controlling stake in its largest electricity network, citing national security concerns.
The move is said to reflect growing uneasiness about the scale of Chinese investment in Australian farmland and infrastructure, which has only intensified in the wake of the country’s recent election.
Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison has said that the bidders, China's State Grid Corp and Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings, have been given a week to respond. The companies were attempting to acquire a 50.4 percent controlling stake in Ausgrid, the electricity distribution network for New South Wales.
“I’ve informed the Ausgrid bidders of my preliminary view that their foreign investment proposals are contrary to the national interest,” Morrison said in a news conference in Brisbane today. “That will require a final decision to be made once I have received those responses.”
The disputed stake in Ausgrid is reportedly worth around US $7.5 billion and will allow the successful bidders to retain control for 99 years.
Earlier this year, Morrison also blocked the sale of Australia’s largest cattle rancher to a Chinese-led group, saying it could be against the national interest. If the Ausgrid sale is ultimately blocked the country’s ties with China, a crucial trading partner, risk being strained.
“Ausgrid’s footprint includes critical power and communication services provided to businesses and government,” Morrison said. “National security concerns are not country-specific and relate to the transaction structure and the nature of the assets.”
Australia’s block to Chinese bidders comes as the UK has again postponed approval for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, in which China’s Nuclear Power Corporation will have a minority stake, on similar security grounds.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.