CEFC hits 1 GW milestone, provides $207 million debt finance to Wirsol projects

The importance of the CEFC to the Australian solar sector has been clearly demonstrated, with the government funded cleantech financing body passing the 1 GW PV power plant milestone this week. The achievement is particularly notable as it has been achieved in only four years.

The tally of utility scale solar projects for which the CEFC has provided financing tipped over the 1 GW mark with the announcement on Friday that the body provided $207 million of debt finance for Wirsol’s 110 MW Wemen Solar Farm and the 90 MW Clermont Solar Farm.

The debt finance provided by the CEFC fills a hole in the market in that it will be provided to Wirsol before the developer has finalized PPAs for both projects.

“For a project sponsor, refinancing may offer the opportunity to borrow at a reduced cost once the project has a contracted revenue stream,” said the CEFC’s transaction lead Niall Brady in a statement. “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.”

With the financing from the CEFC locked in, construction on both the Wemen and Clermont projects could begin as soon as next month. The two projects are located in Victoria and Queensland respectively.

Alongside large scale solar, the CEFC has funded a range of cleantech investments, ranging from energy efficiency measures, combined PV and wind array, battery storage and lithium mining.

“We see strong potential for renewable energy in Australia, and these two projects are an important part of our evolving large-scale solar portfolio,” said Wirsol Managing Director Mark Hogan. “The CEFC is at the heart of our strategy to become a leading fully integrated investor, owner and developer of large-scale solar developments in Australia.”

German-based developer Wirsol has expanded rapidly in Australia, and claims to have 20% market share in the Australian large scale solar market segment. It began its Australian operations in March.