Octopus, Edify Energy provide finance for 333 MW Darlington Point solar farm

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After being waved through by the News South Wales government mid-December, the Darlington Point solar+storage project has reached another milestone, securing finance for the 333 MW solar farm development.

According to Edify Energy’s release, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac will jointly provide debt to the project.

Construction of the solar farm is expected to start shortly, and create nearly 400 direct onsite peak jobs. The EPC duties on the project will be handled by Signal Energy Australia in a joint venture with Canadian Solar, which will perform the O&M role.

Edify Energy, which has developed and structured the Darlington Point Solar Farm, will retain an equity stake in the project. It will also work with Octopus through construction and will undertake the long-term asset management service for the solar farm through operations. 

“Projects such as the Darlington Point Solar Farm demonstrate the expanding momentum of renewable energy projects and the vital role they have to play in Australia,” said John Cole, Edify Energy Chief Executive, noting that the developer continues to look for new renewables opportunities in Australia’s energy market.

The Darlington Point Solar Farm has a signed PPA with Delta Electricity, Vales Point coal-fired power station owner, for 150 MW AC or approximately 55% of its output.

Upon inking the offtake deal mid-December, the two companies described the PPA as an example of solar working together with coal in NSW, and demonstrating the growing place of renewable energy.

For the UK’s largest solar investor, this is its first deal since it set up shop in Melbourne last July.

Managing Director Sam Reynolds said the project exemplified the firm’s investment strategy and was a good fit in Octopus’ global portfolio of renewable energy assets.

“Projects need to stack up economically, not just environmentally, for our investors,” he said.

“Darlington Point ticked the right boxes for us – there’s excellent solar resources in the region, plus it’s right next door to a major existing transmission substation and the site has development approval to accommodate batteries in the future.”

“Bringing projects like this to life shows how the solar industry has come of age in Australia as a mainstream choice for investors, retailers and consumers of energy.”

NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin also welcomed the news of the Darlington Point financial close.

“In NSW we are heading to a cleaner energy future and this project represents yet another significant increase in our energy capacity while contributing to lower emissions” said Mr Harwin.

“We now have a $26 billion pipeline of renewable energy projects in NSW and huge interest in further investment across solar, wind and pumped hydro projects.”

The solar farm is expected to be up and running in early 2020, generating 685,000 MWh of renewable energy each year – enough to power around 115,000 homes.

According to the developer’s environmental impact statement, the Darlington Point project is expected to feature up to one million polycrystalline silicon solar panels mounted on steel frames with a single-axis tracking system and around 55 inverter stations.

It will be built in the vicinity of the TransGrid Darlington Point Substation, eliminating the need for additional transmission line easements and replication of costly infrastructure, which was one of the main reasons for selecting the location.

According to Edify Energy’s earlier statement, the 100 MWh battery will be developed at a later date and be operational by December 2020.

This will be the second big battery in the company’s portfolio. Together with Germany’s Wirsol, Edyfy owns Australia’s largest battery retrofitted to a solar farm – the 25 MW / 50 MWh Tesla battery collocated with the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm, Victoria, and commissioned last November.

Once completed, the Darlington Point solar PV project will be among Australia’s biggest solar farms currently in the development pipeline, such as innogy’s 349 MWp Limondale Solar Farm and Maoneng’s the 255 MWp Sunraysia Solar Farm in New South Wales, Total Eren’s 256.5 MWp Kiamal Solar Farm in Victoria. 

The battery will also be among the nation’s largest, including the South Australian Tesla big battery (110 MW/129 MWh) at the Hornsdale Power Reserve and a 120 MW/140 MWh energy storage facility proposed by SIMEC Zen Energy, as part of UK steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s 1 GW dispatchable renewable energy program for South Australian industrial town Whyalla.

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