CEFC finances 165 MW at three sites in Australia

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The state-owned green lender described the transaction as the biggest single solar financing agreement in Australian history.

CEFC, Commonwealth Bank and Germany’s NORD/LB are offering a syndicated senior debt facility to back the development of the three projects. Sydney-based developer Edify Energy, in cooperation with Germany’s Wirsol, will provide equity.

“This latest package of transactions sets an exciting new benchmark in the provision of finance,” said Gloria Chan, large-scale solar program lead for CEFC.

“The Commonwealth Bank and NORD/LB worked alongside the CEFC to complete the financing over a longer tenor, which is notable given the merchant price risk component of the project. This trend of increasing competition and appetite for renewables among domestic lenders is central to the ongoing development of large scale solar in Australia.”

Edify Energy is developing the 57.5 MW Whitsunday array near the town of Collinsville. It has a 20-year PPA with the Queensland state government and is also receiving A$9.5 million in grants from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Edify Energy is also building the 57.5 MW Hamilton project near Collinsville. Electricity from the array will be sold to the grid on a merchant basis.

The third project that CEFC is funding is the 50 MW Gannawarra array near Kerang, Victoria. The project has a 13-year PPA with Melbourne-based power retailer EnergyAustralia.

The three sites — which will create 300 construction jobs and annually generate enough electricity for 87,000 homes upon completion — will be operational by the beginning of 2018.

“Large-scale solar is finally growing at a pace and making a real impact in Australia’s energy mix,” said John Cole, chief executive of Edify Energy.

The CEFC has now surpassed its initial plan to provide A$250 million of financing for large-scale solar projects.

Its cumulative commitments currently stand at A$281 million for seven projects, with financing to wrap up soon for other undisclosed installations.

In February, it agreed to provide A$54 million of debt financing to Genex Power to support the construction of 50 MW of solar and a 250 MW pumped hydro storage installation at a former gold mine in Kidston, Queensland.