Chinese Australian renewable energy developer Maoneng is to begin construction of the 255MW Sunraysia solar farm near Balranald after reaching financial close for one of the biggest solar projects in the country.
The Sunraysia solar farm might have been the biggest solar project to begin construction in Australia in 2018, where it not for Innogy’s announcement late last month that it would soon begin building the 340MW Limondale solar project, also near Balranald.
The Sunraysia project forms a key element of AGL Energy’s plan to replace the ageing and increasingly decrepit Liddell coal -fired generator in the Hunter Valley with a miture of solar, wind, storage, gas and upgrades to its Bayswater plant.
Sunraysia has a 15 year contract to provide power to AGL, and also has a contract with UNSW in Sydney as part of the university’s plans to reach “carbon neutrality” on energy by 2020. The project may also include a large scale battery storage array.
John Laing, which has a stake in the Hornsdale wind farms majority owned by Neoen, has also taken an equity stake in this project, its first in the solar sector in Autralia.
Debt financing has been secured from Nord L/B, ING, National Australia Bank, Mizuho Bank and Bank of China.
Decmil has been confirmed as the lead contractor for the project under an EPC contract and will also undertake the project’s operations and maintenance when the solar farm is in operation. It is its largest contract to date.
Inverter equipment will be supplied by Schneider while NEXTracker js delivering the single axis tracking technology.
Advisers included Norton Rose Fullbright Australia, Jacobs and King & Wood Mallesons.
“We would like to acknowledge the contributions from all stakeholders who participated in the development of the project including: town planners, engineers, construction contractors, legal advisers, specialist advisers, financiers and investors, traditional and current land custodians, government agencies, retailers and educational institutions,” said Morris Zhou, CEO and chairman of Maoneng Group.
At the peak of construction, up to 400 people will be working and living in Balranald, creating significant local economic growth and opportunities to engage with the local community with respect to the renewable energy sector.
Maoneng also owns and operates the 13MW Mugga Lane solar park in the ACT.