Maoneng, Chint up the ante, aim to develop 2 GW of large-scale solar in Australia

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Maoneng and Chint have finalized the terms of a joint venture which aims to develop a pipeline of 2 GW of solar projects in Australia by 2025. Under the Chint New Energy Maoneng JV, the Australian developer and the Chinese module manufacturer and EPC contractor have already mandated $200 million for an initial project.

The two companies stated their intention to accelerate Australia’s energy transition last year with plans to develop 500 MW of solar projects by 2021The initial partnership agreement inked at SNEC 2019 envisaged Chint taking a 60% stake and Maoneng holding the remainder of shares in the joint venture.

Under their final partnership agreement, Maoneng and Chint have set a more ambitious goal to develop a slew of solar projects that will be connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and supply 200 TWh of electricity annually to around nine million customers.

“By taking on fledgling large-scale solar projects and getting them across the line, we will be increasing our drive to make Australia 100% renewable,” Morris Zhou, CEO and Chairman of Maoneng, said. “Working with CHINT New Energy, we will achieve this by either bringing these projects to financial close, completing construction, operating them — or all three. Areas in which this joint venture has extensive experience.”

The news of the Maoneng-Chint ambitious plans comes at the time when delays and grid bottlenecks that have plagued the Australian utility-scale solar sector are making headlines. Bad news has also been coming from the EPC market segment where the survival of the fittest continues after the last year’s collapse of RCR Tomlinson and the recent withdrawal of Downer Group.

On one of its earlier projects, the 255 Sunraysia Solar Farm near Balranald in NSW, Maoneng has worked with one of the local EPCs, Decmil. In December, the ASX-listed contractor announced it would suffer a $14 million hit to its cash flows because of a dispute with project owners John Laing and Maoneng over delays in the commissioning of the project.

However, under the new partnership, Maoneng hopes to avoid such turbulences being able to combine its local expertise in developing and operating large-scale solar farms with Chint’s track record of developing solar projects across the globe.

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 was built by UGL and commissioned in 2017. 

For Chinese energy giant Chint, the new partnership means more solar jobs in Australia which it sees as a promising market. As announced last year, the company developed 68 MW of solar farms in South Australia and was working on a project pipeline of 400 MW across the country.

“Australia has the opportunity to be a solar energy giant and we’re proud to be working with Maoneng to help achieve this,” Dr. Lu Chuan, CEO of CHINT New Energy, said. “We see a great investment opportunity here and look forward to putting our clean energy experience to good use.”