Genex Power gets debt financing nod for two solar projects

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While it continues to work towards financial close for its Kidston pumped hydro project, Genex Power announced on Thursday it had received credit approval for $175 million of debt funding to finance the construction of the 50 MW Jemalong Solar Project in New South Wales and to refinance the existing debt facility for its operating 50 MW Kidston Solar One Project in Queensland.

The good news comes after the funding for Genex’s landmark 250 MW Kidston pumped hydro project fell through earlier this month after electricity retailer EnergyAustralia had pulled from an offtake deal announced last December.

Before it announced that it was unable to reach financial close on the project in the course of this year, Genex had requested a trading halt on their securities. The developer resumed trading mid-November announcing the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has extended its offer of long-term concessional funding for the project for another seven months to to end of June.

The Kidston facility, Australia’s first large-scale project to use pumped hydro to store solar-generated power, is comprised of the operating 50 MW Stage 1 solar project, the Stage 2 projects – the 250 MW pumped storage hydro project and the multi-staged integrated solar project of up to 270 MW under development and Stage 3 – the Kidston Wind Project of up to 150 MW if proven feasible.

With the ongoing operation of the Kidston Solar One Project, which achieved practical completion in 2018, Genex now expects to be able to refinance the existing debt package to secure “more advantageous financing terms given the now lower risk profile”. By combing the financing of the Jemalong project and the refinancing of the Kidston project, Genex has been able to structure the financing of the NSW solar farm on a fully merchant basis.

Forecast to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Jemalong Solar Farm hopes to benefit from attractive spot prices over the coming years as a result of major generator closures, whilst also giving Genex the flexibility to secure a power purchase agreement if the opportunity presents itself.

The solar farm sits alongside an operational 1.1 MW concentrated solar thermal power pilot plant deployed by Australian CSP specialist Vast Solar and billed as the world’s first modular CSP facility using sodium as a heat transfer fluid. In June, Genex released a massive single tranche of share to raise equity for the Jemalong PV project.

With all the key elements in place, including Generator Performance Standards (GPS) approval from AEMO and a firm offer to connect to the network from Essential Energy, Genex is readying to begin construction on the Jemalong project with Beon Energy Solutions as the EPC and O&M contractor.

“As a result of banks confirming credit approvals, JSP is now ready to commence construction, subject to the finalisation of project and financing documentation, which is expected to occur over the coming weeks,” Genex Chief Executive James Harding said.