Canadian Solar is continuing to expand its downstream activities in Australia, picking up the EPC and module supply contract for the Finlay Solar Farm. The $170 million dollar project will deploy 500,000 1500V Canadian modules, and utilize trackers. It is scheduled to be completed in October of this year.
The PV power plant project will connect to the Trans-Grid transmission network, via the Finlay 132kV Substation. The solar installation is being built on 1,000 acres of farmland near Finlay in the Berrigan Shire Council, 140 km west of Albury.
After reaching financial close on the November 12, the project began construction in December 2018.
“We are delighted to be selected by ESCO Pacific to provide EPC services together with Signal Energy and to supply our 1500V crystalline module to this large-scale solar power plant,” said Shawn Qu, Canadian Solar CEO in a statement. “This partnership further expands our presence and solidifies our competitive position in Australia.”
ESCO Pacific Pty Ltd. were initially responsible for the development of the project, with Signal Energy undertaking its construction. However, in November last year the infrastructure investment firm John Laing acquired ownership of the project from ESCO, with debt funding provided by Westpac and ANZ. This came in the wake of the Finlay project obtaining the largest corporate PPA for any solar project in Australian history, whereby Bluescope Steel contracted for a 7-year purchase agreement for 66% of the output of the solar project.
This fixed price agreement provides a safety-net for investors and can reasonably be acknowledged as one of the primary drivers for the project’s commercial success.
BlueScope’s Chief Executive, John Nowlan echoed this analysis in his July statement concerning the PPA, adding that: “This PPA is one of Australia’s largest corporate offtake agreements and is the largest with a solar farm to date, and complements our firm electricity supply arrangements, which provide the reliable electricity supply we need for manufacturing processes that must operate 24/7… The PPA will help keep downward pressure on our energy costs and will support the gradual transition to renewable energy. The volume under the agreement is equivalent to 20% of BlueScope’s total Australian electricity purchases.”
The PPA was largely a result of the low LCOE the project was able to provide, in line with broader 2018 global market trends. Though ownership was transferred, ESCO remain involved in the project through maintaining the contracts for EPC assistance services.
Finley is the fourth project that ESCO Pacific has successfully delivered to market bringing its total portfolio to nearly 500 MW.