A joint venture between investment manager Foresight Group and Victoria-based developer Syncline Energy plan to start building the 88 MW (AC) solar plant soon, the Sydney-based CEFC said in an online statement. Construction is scheduled for completion by July 2018. The CEFC did not reveal which company will supply the 320,000 PV modules that will be used in the solar array, which will involve the construction of new transmission lines.
The Bannerton Solar Park will be constructed on a barren almond orchard in Almas Almonds, in Victoria's Sunraysia district. The installation — which will annually generate enough electricity for about 30,000 homes — will be partly used to provide power for the public tram system in the city of Melbourne, the CEFC said. An undisclosed amount of the electricity will be sold to the Victorian government and Alinta Energy.
The U.K.-listed Foresight Solar Fund will take an equity stake of 48.5% in the project, while state-owned Korean Infrastructure Asset Management (KIAMCO) will also take a 48.5% stake. South Korea’s Hanwha Energy will hold the remaining 3%. The CEFC — an energy-focused investment unit under the Australian government — said it has agreed to provide additional funding to expedite development of the project, which has not received any grants from the government.
“Previously it wasn't viable to construct solar of this scale in Victoria, which has good insolation rates, but not as high as the northern states,” Ian Learmonth, chief executive of the CEFC, said in an online statement. “We have witnessed rapidly improving economic conditions that now make this project commercially viable without the need for grant funding.”
Foresight Group currently owns 528 MW of capacity at 20 locations. It claims that roughly 475 MW of its portfolio is currently operational.
The CEFC has provided financing for a number of energy projects in Australia this year. In January, it provided A$5 million to help grid-integration specialist GreenSync expand its operations in Australia. In March, the organization offered A$77 million to Sydney-based developer Edify Energy to back the development of 165 MW of PV at three sites in Victoria and Queensland. In May, the CEFC also provided A$60 million to RATCH-Australia to turn a shuttered coal-fired plant in Queensland into a 42.5 MW solar project.
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