South Korean financial giant Hana Financial Investment says it has sealed the finance for the 162MW Columboola solar farm in Queensland, its first renewable energy investment in Australia and the first greenfied project, it says, by a South Korea investment firm beyond their home shores.
Hana said in an emailed statement to RenewEconomy that it had landed $200 million in debt finance from three top-tier international banks, led by Australia’s ANZ, for the project, which is located near Miles in the Western Downs region of Queensland, and which it bought from the UK-based developer, Luminous Energy.
Columboola has signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with CS Energy, a Queensland Government-owned energy business, for 100% of the site’s output – estimated to be around 450GWh annually. Among the beneficiaries of the long-term PPA are a group of universities, all CS Energy customers, including Griffith University, CQUniversity, and QUT.
Hana will invest $120 million of its own equity in the project, with the balance of $200 million in debt coming from ANZ, Singaporean banking giant DBS, and French investment bank and services company Societe Generale.
Preliminary construction work began in June and an EPC contract was signed with Sterling & Wilson and a notice to proceed issued in September, with completion of construction and full operation expected for January 2022.
“Columboola project is very special as it is the first ever overseas greenfield project to be developed and successfully banked by a Korean financial investor as the sponsor,” said Jaewon Lee, Project Manager at Hana Financial Investment who led the transaction.
“Based on the success of the Columboola project, Hana Financial will continue to develop more renewable projects in Australia with Korean power utilities as a strategic business model to help build a greener future with sustainable growth.”
Sterling & Wilson will also provide operations and maintenance for the initial two years of the project, after which subsidiaries of Korea Electric Power Corporation will take on the responsibility for the duration of the project.
Hana Financial Investment and an advisory team negotiated and executed the PPA, EPC, O&M, PF syndicated loan agreement, updated the development approval for the Western Downs Council, and received Foreign Investment Review Board approval.
Hana Financial Investment will apparently sell its equity stake in the project to subsidiaries of Korea Electric Power Corporation and investors in November 2020.