Buying coal plants for the sole purpose of shutting them down: a billionaire’s daring gamble

Mike Cannon-Brookes is not a billionaire like the others. As a new report from Greenpeace-Oxfam exposes the ecological footprint of the ultra-rich French, this Australian entrepreneur aims to help Australia reduce its own footprint. How?’ Or ‘What? By buying AGL, the country’s largest energy company, to close its coal-fired power plants and replace them with renewables.

Power generation and distribution company AGL is Australia’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, site says new scientist† Each year, the company that owns 3 of Australia’s 16 coal-fired power stations would produce more emissions than Sweden’s annual total. Faced with this observation, Mike Cannon-Brookes decided to respond with his own means, namely his gigantic fortune.

On February 19, the billionaire is said to have made a first takeover bid for the electricity company AGL in collaboration with the Canadian asset management company Brookfield. Usbek & Rica† Whoever made his fortune thanks to his software company Atlassian was willing to spend 8 billion Australian dollars for this acquisition (about 5 billion euros). An unsolicited offer that AGL declined because it was too low and not “in the best interest” shareholders, according to AFP.

This refusal did not discourage the billionaire, who is said to have confirmed that negotiations were still ongoing, according to Usbek & Rica† Businessman is determined to complete his project “in the interest of Australians and the environment”† This is to buy the electric company to be able to shut down its coal plants by 2030. After that, Mike Cannon-Brookes would spend another 20 million Australian dollars to replace them with wind and solar farms, two sources of renewable energy.

“The largest decarbonisation project in the world”

This unprecedented operation is presented by the billionaire as a response to the inaction of his government. The Australian Prime Minister is a staunch defender of coal-fired power plants and he refuses to order their closure in the country before 2045. One “ecological and economic nonsense” for Mike Cannon-Brooks, who says his plan could help electricity prices fall. “Renewable energy has become cheaper than coal”he assures ABC. “The economic data is piling up, the scientific data is piling up, all we need is the courage to move in the right direction and get there”says the billionaire.

If his takeover project succeeds, he scores “the birth of the largest decarbonisation project in the world”underlines the magazine new scientist† And that in a country that is still lagging behind in the field of energy transition. “It is a real shame that we have been forced to rely on billionaires to fill the void left by the Australian government. [mais c’est ainsi] †says Marija Petkovic, an analyst for Sydney-based consultancy Energy Synapse, interviewed by new scientist

A rather paradoxical conclusion that nevertheless underlines the urgency of the situation and the need for immediate action.

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