Vast array of global banks revealed as green financiers of 460 MW Western Downs Green Power Hub

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At 460 MWp, the Western Downs Green Power Hub is set to be Australia’s largest solar park. In late October, French renewables giant Neoen announced financial close on the project, the largest in its portfolio and with the potential to generate enough solar energy to power every home on the Sunshine Coast. 

Today it has been revealed just what an international effort said financing entailed as Germany’s Norddeutsche Landesbank announced that it participated in the financing of the project along with six other major international banks, totalling an investment volume of €370m (AUD$598m). 

Along with Natixis, Société Générale, MUFG Bank, British HSBC, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Norddeutsche Landesbank’s helped to facilitate the transaction through its Singapore branch. 

Norddeutsche Landesbank’s Chairman of the Board of Management, Thomas Bürkle, said the bank has been active in green energy finance for almost 30 years. “What began with small wind farms in the North German Plain has now become a global market where our know-how is sought after. We are pleased that, despite the corona pandemic, we are again able to make a contribution to overcoming the climate crisis this year with numerous project financings in the renewable energy sector.” 

Other financings in Australia include Genex Power’s 50 MW Jemalong Solar Farm in NSW and funding to repay the debt for the existing 50 MW Kidston Solar Farm in QLD, and BayWa r.e.’s 112 MW Karadoc Solar Farm in VIC. 

In a statement, Norddeutsche Landesbank said that this is the third time it has provided financing for Neoen, and that the Western Downs Green Power Hub will be a “major milestone in Queensland’s climate goal of generating at least 50% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030. It will supply over 200,000 Australian households with electricity.”

The multi-party deal emphasises the accelerating shift toward global green finance. As a recent Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report states, more than 120 major global banks and insurers have announced policies restricting coal financing and more are being announced every week. These funds are being redirected toward renewable projects. 

Last month, Brighte, the digital-first finance provider for solar and home improvements and darling of Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, announced Australia’s first 100% green asset-backed securitisation, a $190 million Climate Bond Initiative arranged by National Australia Bank (NAB) which gives a great many more Australians the opportunity to install solar plus battery storage solutions in their homes via buy-now pay-later green loans.

It is telling in terms of the global financial shift that not only are global banks and investment funds willing and indeed excited to work together across various markets to get large-scale projects off the ground, but also that green finance is picking up steam at the other end of the spectrum, the little guy, the consumer, the person who doesn’t want to be left behind in the energy transition and doesn’t have to be.

The Western Downs Green Power Hub is rapidly advancing toward its 2022 completion date. Last month, Nextracker’s optimised bifacial solution was selected by Neoen and EPC contractor Sterling & Wilson for the project, which will see module installation commence in 2021. 

With the financing now in place, Neoen will retain a 100% equity stake in the project, a business model of long-term ownership that Neoen CEO and Chairman Xavier Barbaro says is a confidence boost to the company’s lenders in these unprecedented times. 

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