Photon secures finance for two "merchant" solar farms in NSW | RenewEconomy

Photon secures finance for two “merchant” solar farms in NSW

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Photon Energy notches up financial close on two NSW solar farms, the Leeton and Fivebough projects, that will install a combined 14MW in the state’s Riverina region.

Leeton Mayor Paul Maytom with Photon Energy’s management team. Image: Photon Energy Australia
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Photon Energy has achieved financial close on two New South Wales solar farms, the Leeton and Fivebough projects that will install a combined capacity of 14MW in the state’s Riverina region.

The Australian arm of the Netherlands-based Photon said on Friday that it had inked agreements with boutique infrastructure fund Infradebt for debt financing for the two projects to be built on the outskirts of the town of Leeton.

Photon Energy Australia managing director Michael Gartner said the two solar farms were the largest projects to be added to the company’s portfolio to date, and its first to go ahead on a merchant basis, selling electricity competitively into the wholesale market.

“The experience we gain in operating the power plants will be used to maximise revenues in the energy market,” Gartner said.

Infradebt CEO, Alexander Austin, said the fund had worked closely with Phtoton over the past few months to provide a senior debt facility that supported their company’s strategy in Australia.

“We look forward to working with Photon Energy in the future and assisting them with their future development pipeline,’ Austin said.

Photon says it expects the two NSW solar farms – for which it will act as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor – are scheduled to be completed and commissioned in the last quarter of 2020. Battery storage is expected to be added to the solar farms at some point.

And while the projects are going ahead without power purchase agreements, Gartner noted that PPAs could play a role in the plants’ future revenue management strategy, alongside other price-hedging options.

“We will be actively managing the plants in response to changes in market pricing, as well as planning for the addition of energy storage, to enable the plants to position themselves in the market as it transitions from centralised fossil-fuel-burning power plants to distributed low cost renewables,” he said.

Photon Energy CEO, Georg Hotar, said the company’s merchant approach in Australia would pave the way for grid-competitive assets to be developed and added to its European markets and elsewhere in the world.

“In these challenging times, we are proud that our Australian team has made another major achievement, representing an important step towards the implementation of our development strategy,” Hotar said.

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