Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) says it has secured a “green loan” from ING to provide all of the borrowing needs for the 90MW Sebastopol solar farm that it is about to build in NSW.
The Sebastopol project is located 16km south of Temora and about 440km south west of Sydney, and is FRV’s third solar farm in NSW and its seventh in Australia.
It is also FRV’s second large scale solar project – after the recently completed 69.5MW Goonumbla solar farm – to sign a long term power purchase agreement with the federal government owned utility Snowy Hydro.
FRV is part of the Saudi-based Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and says the funding from ING has taken the form of the Loan Market Association Green Loan Principles and the Green Projects requirements. Green loans are a relatively new classification that relate to various environmental and sustainability criteria.
FRV did not reveal the size of the loan, or the overall cost of the project, but said the non-recourse facility would account for all of the project’s borrowing needs. It is the first time that FRV has signed a green loan in Australia.
Construction of Sebastopol has already begun, and is due for completion in 2021. The EPC contractor is Beon Energy Solutions, and FRV anticipate the creation of up to 150 jobs during the construction phase, and 2-3 operational staff for the life of the project. Site maintenance contracts will also be required and will be met by local businesses.
“This is our second financial close this year following Winton solar Farm in Victoria and I am delighted to see another FRV project starting construction in New South Wales after our successful delivery of the Goonumbla Solar Farm few months ago,” Carlo Frigerio, managing director of FRV in Australia, said in a statement.
FRV says it has developed and secured PPA for a total of seven solar projects in Australia, operating and committed with an accumulated investment of over $US700 million since 2012: Royalla (20 MW) in the Australian Capital Territory, Clare (100 MW) and Lilyvale (100 MW) in Queensland, Moree (56 MW), Goonumbla (69.75 MW) and Sebastopol (90 MW) in NSW and Winton (85 MW) in Victoria.
It is also working on a 300MW solar project called Walla Walla, north of Albury, which has been referred to the Independent Planning Commission for approval, and on the 100MW Chaff Mill solar farm in South Australia’s Clare Valley, which will include a 50MW big battery with two hours storage (100MWh).
“We have one of the largest portfolio in Australia and another 100s of megawatts in the pipeline, and we are very keen to move these forward,” Frigerio told RenewEconomy. He conceded that some other projects in the portfolio wouldn’t be able to go ahead because of grid issues, but was confident others could get the go ahead.
He said the company is spending more time on a program called FRVX, which will look at the combination of battery storage and other new technologies with its solar farms, as well as hydrogen storage.
Gido van Graas, head of energy of ING Australia said it was the financiers third transaction with FRV. “By using a green loan to fund the construction of the Sebastopol Solar Farm is a clear testament of FRVs commitment to a sustainable future and contributes towards ING’s ambition to align our lending portfolio with the Paris Agreement goals”.
Gordon Wymer, chief commercial officer of Snowy Hydro, said the company continues to build its renewable energy portfolio, enabling new wind and solar projects to be built. “This is providing much needed competition in the C&I market as well as a great outcome for our environment,” he said in a statement.