DLA Piper leading in energy and natural resources

Global law firm DLA Piper continues to lead on energy and natural resources matters. The firm has consistently ranked as the number one global renewable energy legal adviser.

Promoted by DLA Piper 05 February 2024 Big Law
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Leichhardt Industrials Group

DLA Piper is advising Leichhardt Industrials Group on its AUD 375 million acquisition of the Lake MacLeod Project located near Carnarvon, Western Australia from Dampier Salt Limited (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto Limited) and its associated acquisition financing.

Headquartered in Perth, Leichhardt is an independent and privately owned solar salt company. Leichhardt currently owns the Eramurra Salt Project located near Karratha.

“This is a strategically important and transformative step for Leichhardt and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to advise the Leichhardt team on this transaction,” said Matthew Watkins, Partner, DLA Piper.

“The Lake MacLeod Project complements Leichhardt’s existing Eramurra Solar Salt Project which is undergoing feasibility assessment and provides the platform for Leichhardt to become a significant salt producer in Western Australia.”

“We were pleased to have been able to structure, negotiate and implement a bespoke financing solution to support the execution of this transaction,” said Owen Alcorn, Partner, DLA Piper.

The DLA Piper team was led by partners Matthew Watkins, Alex Jones and Owen Alcorn, and were supported by colleagues across the firm – including partners Leanne Nickels, Adam Smith, Nicholas Boyle and Eagul Faigen, special counsel Nick Sceales, senior associates Kirsty Hall, Sharon Carey, Matt Roberts and Jason Carli, and solicitors Joshua Scoles, Mariko Hunt, Luke Kavenagh and Madina Eira.

The team looks forward to supporting Leichhardt in achieving completion of the acquisition and assuming management control of the project.

Fluence

DLA Piper advised Fluence on the Mortlake Power Station battery, located in Mortlake, Victoria.

“We’re delighted to be advising Fluence on this landmark project, which is yet another step towards energy transition,” said Melbourne-based Luke Westmore, Partner, DLA Piper.

Fluence has been selected by Origin to build the project, which has received approval for its first stage. The battery – to be sized at 300 MW and 650 MWh – will be operating in late-2026.

“The Mortlake Power Station battery will allow for more renewable energy to be fed into the grid, while supporting overall grid stability,” said Luke.

“As the utility companies add storage to their existing facilities, we’ll be seeing further battery projects into the future,” Luke said.

Fluence is enabling the global clean energy transition with market-leading energy storage products and services, and cloud-based software for renewables and storage assets.

The DLA Piper team was led by Luke Westmore (Partner), who was assisted by Lauren Wrafter (Senior Associate).

DLA Piper was ranked the #1 Global Renewable Energy Legal Adviser by Inspiratia for 2021 and 2022 having advised on more renewable energy deals than any other law firm in every quarter of 2022.

DLA Piper’s Global Co-Chair of Energy & Natural Resources, Perth-based Alex Jones, said the deal reflects the firm’s position as the top legal adviser in the renewable energy sector.

“The team looks forward to supporting Fluence as the project develops,” Alex said.

Grupo Cobra

DLA Piper is advising Spanish-based Grupo Cobra on its role in the delivery of the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone Transmission Network, located in central New South Wales (NSW).

The project involves the design, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of 330kV and 500kV clean energy transmission lines and associated infrastructure, with an estimated investment of AUD $10 billion by 2030 and a concession period of 35 years.

“This innovative project will support the decarbonisation and stabilisation of the NSW electricity grid. It will be Grupo Cobra’s first major project in Australia,” said José de Ponte, Partner, DLA Piper.

“We were delighted to advise on this unique project, which is the first of its kind in the Australian market – the delivery of major, regulated, renewable energy transmission infrastructure via a PPP structure,” said José.

“The new transmission infrastructure will enable generators (such as solar and wind) and energy storage providers to connect to the grid,” José added.

Grupo Cobra, together with its consortium partners Acciona and Endeavour Energy, entered into a Commitment Deed with the NSW Government just before Christmas, to be the preferred Network Operator for this project.

Grupo Cobra is a specialist provider of water, gas, electricity and communications distribution networks, and a leader in renewable energies in Spain and Latin America.

The DLA Piper team was led by José de Ponte (Partner, Finance, Projects & Restructuring) and supported by Victoria Brockhall (Senior Associate), Marnie Calli (Special Counsel), Akaash Singh (Senior Associate), and Halima Ansari (Solicitor). Specialist advice was provided by Gerry Bean (Senior Consultant), Chris Mitchell Corporate Partner), Nathaniel Rowe (Senior Associate) and Hugh Wetherill (Solicitor) on corporate structuring and inward investment. Financing advice was provided by Alex Regan (Partner), Caroline Rowe (Special Counsel) and Sophia Davies (Solicitor). Taxation advice was provided by Adam Smith (Partner) and Jason Carli (Senior Associate). Paula Gonzalez de Castejon (Partner) provide local law advice from our Madrid office.

“The transmission infrastructure required a number of complex environmental, planning and other regulatory approvals. Covering an area of about 20,000 square kilometres, the geographical scope of the project is immense,” José added.

“The project is a good example of the complex multi-jurisdictional advice we can provide,” said José.

EV Infrastructure Report

A global survey and report by DLA Piper, with support from Infralogic, has forecast that over the next five years the total value of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure deals worldwide is set to balloon to USD57.4 billion.

Recent dealmaking activity illustrates the clear increase in trajectory of these deals over the past five years. In 2019, there were nine EV infrastructure deals completed. Even in the difficult worldwide economic conditions of 2023, there were 104 deals of which 53 announced deal values with a total of USD24.4 billion in the first nine months of the year.

“The survey found strong investor appetite in this asset class over the next 12 months. Even taking a relatively conservative growth trajectory from the past five years, this would lead to a forecast combined deals value of USD57.4 billion by 2028,” said Melbourne-based Corporate and Projects Partner, Chris Mitchell.

“The increasing number of EVs on Australian roads has placed increased pressure on our rather nascent network of charging infrastructure, and a number of institutional investors have spotted opportunities to invest in the growing pool of early-stage technology companies,” Chris said.

“Growth in the global EV market is being driven by a combination of favourable tailwinds. These include supportive regulation, subsidies and incentives across major car markets worldwide, ambitious corporate environmental, social, & governance (ESG) goals and shifting consumer preferences. Surging demand for EVs also correlates to demand for, and investment in, EV charging stations and related technologies,” Chris said.

When it comes to the rollout of EV charging infrastructure over the last three to five years, the largest share of respondents overall identify the US (65% of top-three selections) as having made the most significant progress, followed closely by China (59%).

“Growth in the global EV market will also be a significant driver for Australia’s battery minerals industry,” said Alex Jones, Global Chair, Energy & Natural Resources, DLA Piper.

“Global demand for battery minerals will continue to support our economy. Investors value the Australian resources industry for its expertise and also its stability and rule of law,” Alex said.

“Australia will benefit from the EV revolution through the export of battery minerals as well as from their broader adoption across industry and amongst consumers.” Alex added.

DLA Piper was ranked the #1 Global Renewable Energy Legal Adviser by Inspiratia for 2021 and 2022 (the thought leader in new energy and infrastructure) having advised on more renewable energy deals than any other law firm in every quarter of 2022.

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