Australian-Chinese group Maoneng has reached financial close on one of Australia’s largest solar farms – the 255 MWp Sunraysia Solar Farm project in New South Wales.
On the back of a long-term equity partnership with Maoneng, U.K.-based infrastructure investor John Laing is investing $108.6 million in the project, taking a 90.1% stake. The company said it made the decision on its first investment in the solar sector in Australia after carefully evaluating a number of solar opportunities in the market over the last two years.
“The investment in this 255MWp project forms part of an APAC renewable energy portfolio that includes investments in the Kiata Wind Farm (VIC) and all three stages of the Hornsdale Wind Farm (SA),“ John Laing said in statement.
The Sunraysia project has also secured debt financing from a consortium of domestic and international banks, including: Nord L/B, ING, Mizuho, Bank of China and National Australia Bank (NAB).
The Maoneng Group will retain a 9.9% interest in the Sunraysia Solar Farm and provide construction management and asset management services to the project.
The Sunraysia project is Maoneng’s second significant project in the Australian market, the first being the 13 MW Mugga Lane Solar Park developed and built under the Australian Capital Territory government’s reverse solar auction.
The project is slated to break ground this year, as the second largest solar farm to commence construction in 2018, following innogy’s 349 MWp Limondale Solar Farm, which broke ground last month.
Decmil Group will be handling the EPC and O&M duties on the project on the back of a $277 million contract – the local contractor’s biggest EPC project to date.
At the peak of construction, up to 400 people will be working and living in Balranald, creating significant local economic growth and opportunities to engage with the local community with respect to the renewable energy sector.
Maoneng has also confirmed the project’s key suppliers. Solar panels will be provided by Jinko, inverter equipment will come from Schneider, while NEXTracker is delivering the single axis tracking technology.
The Sunraysia Solar Farm is supported by power purchase agreements with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and AGL Energy, both of which with a 15-year term.
The solar supply agreement with UNSW is the first of its kind in Australia – bringing together a retailer (Origin Energy), developer (Maoneng) and corporate (UNSW) with an eye on covering 100% of the University’s electricity demand with solar.
The tripartite agreement will see UNSW purchase up to 124,000 MWh of renewable energy per annum from the Sunraysia Solar Farm, meeting UNSW’s annual energy requirements starting in 2019, while Origin will ensure electricity supply to the University if the solar output falls short.
AGL’s offtake with Sunraysia Solar Farm forms part of AGL’s NSW Generation Plan, which includes decommissioning of its aging Liddell coal-fired generator, and plays an important role in AGL’s transition towards cleaner and more affordable energy.