Australia’s biggest solar farm gets huge funding deal to start development

French company Neoen has reached financial close on a $600 million solar farm near Chinchilla.

Oct 27, 2020, updated Oct 27, 2020
An artist impression of the Chinchilla farm

An artist impression of the Chinchilla farm

Neoen said the solar farm would have a peak capacity of 460-megawatts making it the largest in Australia. The company said it would also deliver significant economic benefits to the region. About 400 jobs would be created in the construction phase.

The project has effectively been underwritten by a 352 MW power purchase agreement with the State Government-owned CleanCo, which Neoen said was one of Australia’s most substantial renewable contracts to date.

“The project will contribute over 30 per cent of the energy required for CleanCo to meet its target of 1 GW of new renewable energy generation by 2025,” Neoen said.

“Total project costs will amount to approximately $600 million, with debt provided by a syndicate of seven lenders: Natixis, Société Générale, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, NORD/LB, HSBC and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.”

Sterling & Wilson was appointed as the project’s engineering, procurement and construction contractor in May, design and engineering works began in June, and site mobilisation is expected later this year.

Neoen said construction would take more than a year and the farm would come on line in 2022.

The solar farm will generate energy to power 235,000 Queensland homes, or enough to power every home on the Sunshine Coast. Neoen Australia’s managing director Louis de Sambucy said reaching financial close was a major achievement in a challenging environment.

CleanCo chief executive Maia Schweizer said the project would help drive electricity affordability and create regional growth and jobs for Queenslanders.

The project will also be Neoen’s largest solar farm and will take its portfolio in Australia to over 1.5 GW.

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