Australian renewable energy developer Edify Energy and German group Wirsol have successfully completed Australia’s largest single solar project financing to build and operate three new large-scale solar farms. These are the Whitsunday and Hamilton Solar Farms in Queensland and the Gannawarra Solar Farm in Victoria.
Construction is expected to be completed in first quarter of 2018 and will see the Victorian and Queensland markets benefit from an additional 198MWp of renewable capacity.
“We are thrilled to announce the successful acquisition and refinancing of this portfolio as it marks our first move into the Australian renewable sector. We believe this transaction demonstrates the importance of bringing together industry knowledge and local expertise to successfully develop, construct and finance large-scale renewable projects,” says Wirsol Energy MD Mark Hogan.
“This transaction firmly positions Wirsol as one of Australia’s leading renewable investors. We will continue building on this success and are actively seeking to acquire further development opportunities to fulfil our internal ambition of deploying 1GWp solar across Australia by 2020.”
The Whitsunday Solar Farm is supported by the Queensland Government through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) as part of its Solar 150 Program and by the Commonwealth Government through the award of a $4.5m ARENA grant in September 2016. The Hamilton Solar Farm is co-located with the Whitsunday Solar Farm and has been financed on a merchant basis, including a short-term contract with ERM Power. The Gannawarra Solar Farm will benefit from a long-term PPA with EnergyAustralia.
This landmark financing brings together a syndicate of domestic and international banks, including CEFC, CBA and NORD/LB, which are providing a $245m long-term debt facility across the portfolio of contracted and merchant projects.
Edify Energy CEO John Cole is confident that investment in large-scale renewable energy will become more common place.
“Transactions such as this demonstrate that the combination of project development and structuring expertise, and investment confidence is once again present in the Australian renewable sector. Since acquiring the sites from Solar Choice in 2015, we have taken these projects through the whole land, planning, grid connection and financing process, always with a view to maximising the volume of capacity we can deliver. We are looking to replicate this scale mindset across the rest of our development pipeline and hope to hear of other project developers doing the same.”
Construction on all three projects will commence shortly, with the townships of Collinsville, Queensland and Kerang, Victoria expected to benefit from a peak of 200 and 100 jobs across the two sites respectively.