New South Wales is set to become host to three new large-scale solar energy projects, with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) announcing that it will invest $150 million to accelerate construction of the projects.
The three projects are all located in regional New South Wales and will provide a significant boost to local economies. The CEFC estimates they will provide power for up to 41,500 homes and create 250 jobs during the construction phase, adding 110 Megawatts of new solar generation capacity to New South Wales.
The CEFC investment provides the bulk of the finance for the three projects, with a total project value of $230 million. All three projects will be owned and developed by Neoen Australia.
The CEFC has recognised that a significant finance gap remains in the Australian clean energy sector and views its role as crucial to supporting the sector in meeting the Federal Renewable Energy Target.
“While we have seen increasing investment in renewable energy in Australia, there is still a large investment gap that the CEFC is working to close so we can meet the Renewable Energy Target.” CEFC Large-Scale Solar program lead, Gloria Chan said.
“The CEFC has a significant pipeline of solar projects and we are looking forward to confirming additional financing commitments as soon as transactions are finalised. When fully deployed, our large-scale solar program will represent the largest lending commitment to the large-scale solar sector in Australia to date.
“Through this program we have seen a significant reduction in the cost of solar energy to the point where it is very competitive with other forms of electricity generation.”
The three projects, that have also received grant funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) are:
- The 55 Megawatt Parkes Solar Farm, with a total project cost of $107.9 million and set to provide power to about 20,500 homes.
- The 30 Megawatt Griffith Solar Farm, with an estimated project cost of $54.6 million, powering 11,500 homes
- The 25 Megawatt solar farm to be constructed near the town centres of Dubbo and Narromine, with a total cost of $55 million and powering 9,500 homes.
Across the three projects, ARENA has allocated up to $16 million in grant funding. With the CEFC commitment totalling $150 million, the Federal Government agencies are the biggest financial backers of the Neoen owned projects.
“The Australian large-scale solar sector is now on the cusp of being fully commercial, largely due to support from ARENA and the CEFC,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.
“Five NSW based plants have won support through ARENA’s funding round and will together almost double the amount of big solar in the state.”
Electricity generated by the solar farms will be purchased under a commercial power purchase agreement signed between Neoen Australia and electricity retailer ENGIE.
Construction of the plants is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.