CIP looks to ride Canadian tailwinds with renewables platform

7 December

CIP looks to ride Canadian tailwinds with renewables platform

With the launch of a new Canadian development platform, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) is betting big on tailwinds for renewable energy projects, on-the-ground experience, and an opening up of energy markets across the country, the managing director of the recently launched platform told Infralogic.

Horizon, according to managing director Shannon Wever, will focus primarily on utility-scale solar, onshore wind, battery storage, and hydrogen projects, with an opportunistic approach to project origination and early- to mid-stage acquisitions. The platform’s expansion strategy will differ by region, based in part on regulatory differences in how power projects are selected in different provinces, she said.

Horizon’s early activity is likely to focus on Alberta, where the platform has roughly 1.2 GW of existing assets. The deregulated market there gives developers more flexibility to advance its growth strategy. But the platform is already actively seeking opportunities in neighboring Saskatchewan, Eastern Canada, and Atlantic Canada, Wever said.

“In Alberta we have the ability to develop the type of technologies that we think will fit best in the markets, because Alberta’s a deregulated market,” Wever said.

In the regulated markets outside of Alberta, energy developments are subject to the parameters of solicitations from the Crown corporations, which often specify capacities and technologies for a given procurement.

That means a developer that sees an opportunity to pair a battery storage project with utility-scale solar can’t make such a proposal if the procurement only calls for utility-scale solar.

But, as provincial governments across the country chase net-zero emission goals, those markets are beginning to open up, Wever said, citing a June announcement by British Columbia utility BC Hydro of a clean call for power open to various renewable energy technologies planned for Spring 2024.

“Across Canada the markets are opening up. We have a clean call coming in British Columbia, and that is the first one in almost a decade,” Wever said. “That’s really exciting. I didn’t think I’d ever see BC open up again, and here it’s happening really fast.” That opening trend, alongside a robust clean technology investment tax credit currently awaiting legislative finalization—is creating a wealth of opportunities for development in Canada, Wever said.

“It’s really happening. All the way from BC to New Finland, the market is opening up for renewables. And so, it’s a great time to be in this space,” she said.

An energy developer with more than 20 years of experience in Canada, Wever said the Horizon platform will give CIP critical on-the-ground expertise and an ability to navigate opportunities across a varied regulatory landscape.

Wever said a major storyline for developers in Canada to watch in the coming years, will be how the federal government and parliamentary authorities balance national decarbonization goals and local market conditions.

“At each provincial level, there’s this dynamic that’s happening now, between the federal government and the governments of the provinces, in our objective to be net-zero by certain dates,” she said. “That’s part of the ongoing debate in Canada right now. What’s an achievable date in every province?”

Backed by CIP’s flagship funds, Horizon does not have a specific capital deployment target, Wever said. And the asset manager does not disclose returns for individual projects or companies like Horizon.

As of June, Copenhagen Infrastructure IV had secured EUR 5.6bn (USD 6.0bn) in capital commitments, en route to a EUR 12bn target fund size.

Wever described CIP’s approach to the Canadian market as “a really aggressive approach, but very realistic about how these markets work.”

Horizon launches with a pair of seed projects in Alberta: the 692 MW Travers Solar project and 495 MW Buffalo Plains onshore wind project. Each represents the largest project of its kind in Canada, according to CIP.

Wever said onshore wind and utility-scale solar will be the “bread and butter” of Horizon’s activities for the near-term. But the platform is investigating opportunities in battery storage and clean hydrogen, with developments in the latter likely being further off due to less mature market dynamics

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