The plans of Australian big solar developer, ESCO Pacific, to build 1GW of grid-connected projects around the country are a step closer to fruition after it secured more than $A4 million of seed capital in a fund-raising round led by London-based clean energy finance firm Lennox Partners.
ESCO Pacific aims to develop a pipeline of projects, ranging in size from 50MW to 200MW, with a combined capacity of 1GW.
ESCO CEO Steve Rademaker says the company has formally executed land rights on its first four projects (500MW-worth) in Queensland, and is on track to secure “additional opportunities” before the end of the year.
The projects, ranging in size between 50MW and 200MW, are strategically located in areas with high solar irradiance and access to “robust” grid infrastructure.
“The capital raised will enable ESCO Pacific to develop our growing pipeline to international project finance standards and we expect to have at least 300MW ready to build within the next 12 months,” said Rademaker in a statement on Friday.
According to Lennox Partners, the $4 million raised for the projects came from a consortium of international investors, who are as-yet unnamed.
Interestingly, James Sibony, a partner at Lennox, said the support of a new Prime Minister had meant the Australian solar market was enjoying a positive outlook for utility-scale projects.
“Lennox Partners believes that addressing climate change is a financially sustainable proposition,” he said.
“As leaders meet in Paris this week for the COP21 Climate Conference, this transaction demonstrates the importance of supporting businesses in accessing the capital required to deliver clean energy investment targets.
Simony said hee expected to return to the financing markets to raise in excess of $A1 billion required for delivering the entire pipeline of ESCO Pacific projects.
The company is said to be working on a number of strategies for the sale of the renewable power generated, including a mixture of merchant and hedged power through short, medium and long-term power purchase agreements.
ESCO said it would soon be making some strategic hires to fill key positions required to bring the projects to market.