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Mike Cannon-Brookes backs new battery investment fund through his family VC Grok

Atlassian co-founder and renewable energy advocate Mike Cannon-Brookes has backed a new fund to finance grid-scale battery projects through his family fund, Grok Ventures.

Canberra-based specialist fund manager Infradebt has announced that Grok, JANA Diversified Infrastructure Trust and several existing family office clients have participated in the initial close of their Infradebt Energy Transition Fund (ETF).

The fund will provide senior debt financing over the coming years to 6-8 battery projects with a total capacity of 1.5-2 GW, equivalent to the capacity of a large coal-fired power station.

Infradebt has financed 43 projects since its launch in 2014.

CEO Alexander Austin said funding from ETF will enable a faster rollout of battery projects.

“Infradebt is very pleased to have reached this important milestone for the Energy Transition Fund,” he said.

“Grid-scale batteries, and energy storage more generally, is a key element in facilitating orderly and rapid decarbonization of the grid. Decarbonization requires the rapid rollout of wind and solar energy and grid-scale dispatchable storage to match supply and demand 24x7x365.”

The ETF’s first two investments are loans to Genex’s Neon Capital Battery and Bouldercombe BESS.

The Neoen Capital Battery is a 100 MW/200 MWh battery project on the outskirts of Canberra. Infradebt has provided a senior debt facility alongside the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The Genex Bouldercombe BESS is a 50 MW/100 MWh project located approximately 20 km southwest of Rockhampton, Queensland. Both projects are currently under construction and are expected to become operational in 2023.

Grok has been supporting Infradebt for 5 years, and this time 12 months ago, when Cannon-Brookes launched its battle for AGL with a $5 billion takeover bid, Grok poured $200 million into Infradebt for a minority stake in support of Infradebt. ethical fund, IEF. That fund has provided capital for 22 projects ranging from various solar power and farms to a school in Queensland and a Victorian hospital. The fixed income fund has achieved an IRR of 6.7% since inception.

Grok CEO Jeremy Kwong-Law said they believe ETF will be another fund to deliver returns and accelerate grid decarbonization.

“Since investing in Infradebt Ethical Fund in 2017, we have kept a close eye on Infradebt identifying gaps in the capital stack to accelerate Australia’s decarbonisation efforts while providing solid risk-adjusted returns,” he said.

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