Three new solar farms set for Queensland and Victoria have secured Australia's largest solar financing deal to date.
Three new solar farms set for Queensland and Victoria have secured Australia's largest solar financing deal to date. Image Credit: Activ Solar

Three new large-scale solar farms have secured the largest combined financing deal in Australia to date, bringing investment and jobs to rural Queensland and Victoria.

The CEFC has announced backing of two solar farms north of Collinsville, Queensland, as well as a commitment to the Gannawarra Solar Farm, west of Kerang in Victoria. The construction of the three projects will be led by Edify Energy, in partnership with underwriter Wirsol.

The two Queensland projects consist of the 57.5 MW Whitsunday Solar Farm, and the 57.5 MW Hamilton solar farm. Between the two projects, sufficient power for approximately 62,000 homes will be generated.

The Whitsunday Solar Farm has also received a $9.5 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and will benefit from a recently announced revenue guarantee provided by the Queensland State Government.

In Victoria, Edify Energy will develop the 50 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm, which is expected to generate power for approximately 25,000 homes. The Gannawarra Solar Farm has entered into a 13-year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia.

Australia’s largest solar deal

The CEFC’s investment commitment across the three projects totals $77 million, with an additional 300 jobs to be created during construction. All three of the projects are expected to be operational by early 2018.

Working in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank and Germany’s NORD/LB, the CEFC has contributed to a debt facility funding the project. It is understood that the combined deal is the largest financing deal for large-scale solar projects achieved in Australia to date.

“Large-scale solar is finally growing at a pace and making a real impact in Australia’s energy mix. We will seek to maintain the strong community interest throughout the construction period and into operations scheduled for early next year.” Edify Energy Chief Executive John Cole said.

In announcing the investment into additional large-scale solar power stations, the CEFC has confirmed that it has now exceeded its initial goal of $250 million in targeted investment for large-scale solar. When combined with previous commitments, the CEFC has now invested $281 million across seven large-scale solar projects, spread across Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

“We created our large-scale solar program as a means of providing tailored finance to accelerate large-scale solar projects in Australia at the lowest possible cost,” CEFC Large-Scale Solar program lead, Gloria Chan said.

“We have been pleased with the very strong level of interest we have received. We are seeing increasing confidence in the sector, and a growing appetite by investors to support both contracted projects and to take merchant energy price risk.

“Through our recent investments, we have also seen a continued reduction in the cost of solar energy, to the point where it is increasingly competitive with other forms of electricity generation, confirming the central role of solar energy in Australia’s renewable energy mix.”

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