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Interview: Matt Rebbeck, CEO Australia at RES

by RES | Sep 05, 2021 | Reading time: 4 min

With significant growth in recent years in our Australian asset management portfolio, we spoke with Matt Rebbeck, our CEO in Australia, to find out more about the work we are doing in the region and current market conditions.

Matt joined RES in 1996 after studying for his Master’s degree. “I’ve always had a passion for the natural environment as well as a fascination for state-of-the-art technology, so when I saw that Loughborough University had a masters in renewable energy, I thought it looked like the perfect fit.” This was one of the first ever masters courses in renewables and at that time. “It had only been running for a year. From the early days, RES has supported graduates and offered to sponsor a student from the course and following an interview I was very happy to be selected. RES provided guidance throughout my studies and my MSc thesis (on long term wind speed prediction techniques) was completed in collaboration with RES’ technical experts. Following this I started working at the company with a role in the technical team, helping to look after the measuring and analysis of wind data, designing wind farm layouts and developing software tools to optimise asset performance and provide more accurate and efficient reporting.”

RES has been active in the Australian market since 2004. “I moved from our Group Technical team in the UK to set up our business here. At that time, we only had a small team of people and our main project was the development of the Taralga Wind Farm in New South Wales.” Now the business in Australia has grown to 80+ employees across Sydney, Melbourne and multiple regional locations. “We’ve developed some of the largest wind farms in the southern hemisphere. In addition, our asset management business has undergone very significant growth. We now manage over 1.3GW of assets bringing our global support services portfolio to over 7.5GW. We work across development, construction management and asset management and are engaged in wind, solar and storage.”

Over the years there have been plenty of highlights. When asked about any standout projects, Matt advised, “If I had to pick out a few, one would be signing Australia’s first utility-scale corporate Power Purchase Agreement with Telstra in 2017 for our first Australian solar farm at Emerald in Queensland. We developed the project, managed the construction and now asset manage the project which was recently identified as the top performing solar farm in Queensland. This is an impressive achievement for our team who had to turn this site around following the collapse of the EPC contractor during construction. By reacting quickly, within three months the team had taken over the site, organised the O&M contract and had the site fully operational. The project is making a positive contribution to the National Electricity Market by producing enough low carbon energy to power approximately 35,000 Queensland homes.

“Another highlight would have to be the Murra Warra Wind Farm located in Victoria, which we provide construction and asset management services for.” At 435MW across two stages it is one of the largest wind farms in Australia. Stage one of the project, which consists of 61 turbines, became fully operational last year. “We’re currently managing the construction of stage two which will consist of 38 turbines. When stage two of the project is completed next year it will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 150,000 homes in Victoria and avoid an estimated 468 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions each year. What’s more, the direct stimulus provided to the local economy by construction of the first stage was $A4.4 million through spend on accommodation, retail items and services and this local stimulus is anticipated to be replicated by the construction of the second stage.”

Murra Warra Wind Farm, Victoria, Australia

“There’s also Ararat Wind Farm which achieved financial close in 2015. This was a landmark project in Australia at the time, the first project to get to financial close after a very long pause in the market and achieved through an innovative PPA contracting approach. This model was subsequently adopted by many others in Australia.”

RES international status is extremely beneficial for its clients. “One of RES’ main company values is collaboration. It’s something we do very well. Our global team share our skills, knowledge and experience to continue to improve the services we provide for clients. I think this is why we continue to receive awards for our work worldwide. Many of our clients have portfolios which span international borders, so knowing that we operate in different regions and have the local knowledge and connections really helps.

“We have evolved our service offering to focus on the key challenges faced in delivering new projects which is clearly resonating with investors and delivering new business. In construction, our in-house grid expertise is leveraged to support the registration and connection of new projects, while in operations our expanding control centre services, energy market services and plant performance optimisation services continue to create value.

“We’re also currently working on a number of digital projects with our global team which will provide huge benefits for our asset management clients, both in terms of revenue generated and improving performance. Our regional growth will contribute towards RES’ vision to create a future where everyone has access to affordable zero carbon energy.”

When asked about what people might be surprised to know about him, Matt says, “From a young age I have had a passion for windsurfing (and kitesurfing when that came along), and so I spent much of my childhood searching for the wind. I later also took up paragliding and gliding so spent much of my free time searching for the sun and looking for the perfect thermal conditions for cross-country flying. So, I guess it was inevitable that I would end up working in a business that is passionate about finding the best wind and sun in the world!”

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