Three large-scale solar plants in regional NSW have been approved for Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding worth $150 million, the CEFC’s biggest commitment to large-scale solar to date.
The plants in Dubbo, Parkes and Griffith will cost a total $230 million and are the first projects to receive debt finance under the CEFC’s large-scale solar financing program.
Owner and developer Neoen expects the projects will create about 250 jobs during construction this year and produce enough renewable energy to power 41,500 homes.
The projects have also received $16 million in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
Neoen will enter into Power Purchase Agreements with Engie in Australia for the sale of energy generated from the Parkes and Griffith sites. It will operate the Dubbo plant on a merchant basis.
The 55MW Parkes plant will consist of 206,000 panels across 210 hectares and is expected to generate enough solar to power about 20,500 homes.
The 30MW plant near Griffith will include about 112,000 panels and will generate enough electricity to power about 11,500 homes.
The 25MW plant east of Dubbo and one north of Narromine will be comprised of 80,000 solar panels on 80 hectares across both sites. The sites are expected to generate enough solar to power about 9,500 homes.
The projects all feature single-axis tracking technology.
CEFC large-scale solar program lead Gloria Chan said the three projects will increase the state’s large-scale solar capacity by more than 50%.
“While we have seen increasing investment in renewable energy in Australia, there is still a large investment gap that the CEFC is working to close so we can meet the Renewable Energy Target,” Chan said.
“The CEFC has a significant pipeline of solar projects and we are looking forward to confirming additional financing commitments as soon as transactions are finalised. When fully deployed, our large-scale solar program will represent the largest lending commitment to the large-scale solar sector in Australia to date.”
Neoen Australia managing director Franck Woitiez said his company is hoping for 1GW of renewable energy assets in Australia.
“With long-term debt finance from the CEFC, and the support from ARENA, Neoen continues to invest in the future of the Australian energy mix, and deliver on its promises of building sustainable, competitive and renewable electricity,” he said.
Green Energy Markets estimates that around 5.6GW of new capacity will be required to meet the 2020 Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, with generation from wind, large-scale solar and hydro making up just 15% of output in the National Electricity Market in 2016.
The CEFC has previously invested in large-scale solar in regional NSW, with a $47 million commitment to the 56MW Moree Solar Farm, and will be announcing further investments in 2017.