Lightsource BP says it has secured debt and finance for its first, 200MW solar plant in Australia, and the largest single facility financed today by the joint venture that acts as the vanguard for oil giant BP’s push into renewables.
The 200MW DC solar project (176MW AC) will be built near Wellington, in NSW, and most of the output will go to Snowy Hydro under a 15-year contract that was secured as part of the major wind and solar tender that Snowy concluded late last year for what it said then were groundbreaking low prices.
LightSource BP said a senior debt facility has been financed with ING and EDC (Export Development Canada). One notable aspect of the project is that it is the first time that bifacial solar panels – in this case from Canadian Solar – will be installed at this scale in Australia.
“This project is the first in the Australian pipeline to come to fruition, and is just the beginning of Lightsource BP’s ambition to be a leader in the Australian solar market,” said Adam Pegg, the country manager for Australia at Lightsource BP.
“Our team is hard at work advancing a number of projects across the NEM (National Electricity Market). We’re proud to be pushing the low-carbon transition forward in this country, and to be contributing to the company’s wider goal of achieving 10GW of solar in the next five years.”
- The project is one of eight that won a tender held by Snowy Hydro last year that resulted in contracts awarded to 880MW of large scale wind and solar projects at what Snowy said were stunning low prices – between $40/MWh and $50/MWh – that even after being firmed by the company’s hydro assets were well below the current cost of “base-load” electricity.
LightSource BP said construction of the Wellington solar project is due to start shortly and will showcase next-generation Canadian Solar bifacial panels, alongside Array Technologies single axis tracking.
It says the solar farm will produce approximately 435,000MWh of electricity a year, which suggests a “capacity factor” of around 30 per cent on an AC basis- due to the combination of single axis tracking and bi-facial technology (where the back-side of the solar module also produces power from reflected light).
Just over half the output will be sold to Snowy Hydro under the terms of the contract, with the rest sold on the spot market and any other PPAs it can find.
Pegg told RenewEconomy that Lightsource BP had proposed projects in every state – except Tasmania – and had drawn interest from miners. “The market is really good … there are some challenges, such as grid connections, but we are a long term owner of these assets and we here for the long term and have a great partner BP who think in decades.”
Michiel de Haan, Global Head of Energy for ING, commented: “We are delighted to support Lightsource BP on its first solar project in Australia … and we are keen to support Lightsource BP on an ongoing basis on their global initiatives in the renewable energy space.
“The transaction contributes towards ING’s ambition to align our lending portfolio with the Paris Agreements goals and marks another milestone for our dedicated Energy team in Sydney.”
Jean-Philippe Nolet, the head of renewables & sustainable technologies at EDC said the transaction would support Canadian Solar and further strengthens EDC’s presence in Australia’s renewable sector.