The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has reached a major investment milestone for large-scale solar development in Australia, with its latest two investments helping accelerate the delivery of more than 1GW in additional solar energy across 20 projects.

The CEFC today announced it had committed $207 million in debt finance to accelerate the development of 200MW of additional solar capacity across two WIRSOL Energy projects – the Wemen Solar Farm in Victoria and the Clermont Solar Farm in Queensland.

With these latest commitments the CEFC has invested in 20 large-scale solar projects since 2013, making it Australia’s largest solar investor with its support of projects in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

CEFC large-scale solar lead Monique Miller said: “The addition of more than 1GWp of new solar energy since 2013 equates to enough electricity to power about 375,000 average homes. While our solar investments represent just 1% of Australia’s total electricity generation, they represent a substantial reduction in carbon emissions, of around 1.8 million tonnes annually, making an important contribution to Australia’s overall emissions reduction goals.”

The CEFC has committed $110 million in senior secured debt towards the 110MW Wemen Solar Farm near Mildura in Victoria and up to $97 million in senior secured debt towards the 90MW Clermont Solar Farm 400km west of Rockhampton in Queensland.

The Wemen Solar Farm is expected to produce enough power to supply nearly 34,000 homes, while the Clermont development is expected to produce enough energy to supply nearly 31,000 homes.

The CEFC’s role as sole debt financier would enable WIRSOL to begin construction on the two projects as early as January 2018, said CEFC transaction lead Niall Brady.

“There is still a gap in investor appetite for projects that are in the process of finalising Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which has the potential to delay construction,” Brady said. “We are pleased to work with project proponents such as WIRSOL in helping to overcome these hurdles.

“Australia’s large-scale solar market is maturing, and we are pleased to see growing interest from private sector financiers in refinancing projects once they are contracted and operational, because of the lower perceived investment risk.

“For a project sponsor, refinancing may offer the opportunity to borrow at a reduced cost once the project has a contracted revenue stream. The CEFC’s role as an ‘interim’ financier is ultimately helping to crowd in additional private sector investment to support the sector’s continued development.”

Queensland, 12 projects, $440 million CEFC commitment, 695MW total capacity
NSW, 4 projects, $196 million CEFC commitment, 166MW total capacity
Victoria, 3 projects, $247 million CEFC commitment, 248MW total capacity
Western Australia, 1 project, $15 million CEFC commitment, 10MW total capacity
TOTAL, 20 projects, $898 million CEFC commitment, 1,119MW total capacity