Vicinity Centres (ASX:VCX) is in the process of becoming the largest investor in solar power of any shopping centre group in Australia.
It will invest $28m over the next 12 months across its SA and WA assets via the installation of 39,000 solar panels that will generate 17.4 GWh of energy each year. The energy generated by the solar and battery systems will be used on-site for both Vicinity and retailers reducing reliance on the grid. The project is a good example of how financial returns and sustainability objectives can work in unison. We expect Vicinity to achieve mid teens IRR on investment from its solar energy programme.
In recent discussions with management, it is clear the company is looking for energy related initiatives that benefit as many stakeholder groups as possible. At the same time as shareholders being financial winners from the initiative, in a win for the environment Vicinity is reducing overall energy usage. From FY15 to FY17 the total portfolio gross lettable area (GLA) reduced by 4.6% while the total energy usage of the portfolio has reduced by 14.4% over the same time period. Vicinity is within the investment universe of the Ethical Partners Australian Share Fund.
During September 2020 the Fund returned -3.40% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of -3.60%, outperforming by 0.20% (after fees). Overweight positions in Insurance stocks and an underweight position in Construction stocks and Healthcare detracted from performance while overweight positions in Industrials (specifically Building Products) and underweight positions in Information Technology and Energy contributed to performance
Emma McCarthy recently joined Ethical Partners. Emma is a passionate final year law student and joins us as Sustainability and Advocacy Assistant. We are honoured to share with you her reflections on the recent UN Global Compact conference, and how it inspired her, as a new recruit to the global sustainability and human rights community, on her journey to fight for change.
During August 2020 the Fund returned 4.10% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 3.05%, outperforming by 1.05% (after fees). Overweight positions in Consumer Staples and Industrials added to performance while stocks in General Insurance and Building Products detracted from performance.
It appears that the Australian economy will be asked to grow itself out of debt post COVID rather than experience an increase in taxes once the economy is more stable. So what are the long term projects that would change Australia for the better? It was quite timely indeed then that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently released its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP). It appears to us that AEMO has put down the framework for how Australia will operate with less coal fired electricity generation given we have an aging fleet which will be gradually de-commissioned over the next 20 years.The AEMO Plan is a whole of system blueprint for the evolution and change the electricity market will experience in the 20 years to 2040. It expects 63% of the current coal fired power stations to close by then based on company disclosures and end of life assumptions. Herein lies Australia's great stimulus opportunity.