All 12 large-scale solar projects reach financial close

By ECD (Electrical+Comms+Data) Staff
Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

Twelve large-scale solar projects are on track to become a reality, as the twelfth and final project reaches financial close.

The 12 projects, spread across NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, have received $90 million grant funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Eight of the projects are also receiving a total of $320 million debt finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Works have already begun on nine of the 12 plants — six in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Western Australia — with work on the remainder to commence imminently. The projects — expected to be completed between late 2017 and mid-2018 — will deliver 480 MW of new renewable energy capacity.

“From zero to more than 20 plants in five years, Australia’s large-scale solar industry has grown at a tremendous pace thanks to concerted efforts by ARENA and the CEFC. We know of at least six new plants that are being developed without any ARENA grant funding support,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

“In practical terms, this latest milestone means each of the 12 projects is fully financed and has locked in engineering, construction and connection agreements, along with council approvals and environmental approvals.

“Regional economies will benefit massively from the growing big solar industry, with an estimated 2300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs expected to be created by these plants.”

Frischknecht said when ARENA developed its competitive funding round in 2015, it expected $100 million funding to support 200 MW of new projects.

“We’ve managed to more than double this: 490 MW of big solar with $87 million funding. It’s enough renewable energy to power 150,000 Australian homes and generate one-tenth of the new capacity needed to meet 2020 Renewable Energy Target.”

Planning, developing and financing large-scale solar projects remained a complex task involving multiple different parties, he said. That’s why the knowledge gained from the project is so valuable.

“ARENA believes in the power of shared knowledge. That’s why we require project developers to share the learning from each stage of development, construction and connection with the renewable energy sector,” Frischknecht said.

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