Three regional NSW solar farms totalling 110MW in capacity are set to begin construction, after getting a $150 million leg-up to financial close from Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
The CEFC said on Wednesday the investment to accelerate the construction of the three major solar farms was its biggest commitment yet to the nation’s large-scale solar sector, and the first debt funding deal under its large-scale solar financing program.
This paves the way for the three Neoen-owned projects, which have previously received grant funding of $16 million through ARENA’s big solar funding round, to begin construction in Dubbo (25MW), Parkes (55MW) and Griffith (30MW). Completion of the projects will boost NSW’s big solar capacity by more than 50 per cent once completed.
The landmark investment was announced by the CEFC alongside ARENA, which at the same time announced its own intentions to allocate $20 million of funding to the successful applicants to a new tender for demonstration projects under its Advancing Renewables Program.
The two organisations said in a joint statement that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had today called on them both to focus on encouraging the development of flexible capacity and large-scale storage projects in Australia as it transitions to a low-carbon electricity market.
CEFC’s solar program lead, Gloria Chan, said in a statement that while private investment in renewable energy was on the rise in Australia, a “large investment gap” still remained.
“The CEFC is working to close (that gap) so we can meet the Renewable Energy Target,” Chan said, adding that the green bank had a “significant pipeline“ of solar projects it was looking forward backing with financial support.
“When fully deployed, our … program will represent the largest lending commitment to the large-scale solar sector in Australia to date,” she said.
“Through this program we have seen a significant reduction in the cost of solar energy to the point where it is very competitive with other forms of electricity generation.”
As a CEFC release notes, the Neoen solar farms have also seen the involvement of a new energy off-taker in the solar sector, after the company signed PPAs with Engie for the sale of energy generated by the Parkes and Griffiths plants.