Keppel Renewable Energy, the renewables arm of Keppel Corp, has agreed to buy a 45% stake in Harlin Solar, a special purpose entity established in August 2020 to develop a 500 MW solar farm at Harlin, about 100 kilometres northwest of Brisbane.
Keppel will pay a nominal sum of $540 for the share and also provide Harlin Solar with a lending facility of up to $3.24 million to fund development costs.
Developer Anthony John Youssef and Melbourne-based renewable energy company New Energy Development hold the remaining 55% of Harlin Solar’s issued ordinary shares but Keppel will now lead the development and management of the construction and operation of the project.
The Harlin solar farm, to be built on a 2,055-hectare site between Harlin and Kilcoy, is set to become the largest solar farm in Australia with a capacity of at least 500 MW.
The developers said the project – which is expected to feature bifacial modules mounted on single axis trackers and will connect to the 275 kV high voltage national distribution network in Queensland – will generate enough energy to power more than 142,000 average Australian homes which will save about 800 kilotonnes of carbon emissions per year.
The purchase is Keppel’s first solar farm project but the company will be responsible for undertaking the grid connection studies, assessing the site and technology requirements, sourcing for off-takers as well as project management of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the project.
Chris Ong, managing director of Keppel Renewable Energy, said the Harlin solar farm is part of Keppel’s Vision 2030, which includes a goal of growing the group’s portfolio of renewable assets to 7 GW by 2030.
“This project reflects Keppel’s continuing journey to support the world’s energy needs through renewables,” he said.
“Keppel Renewable Energy will collaborate with other business units and harness the technical and commercial capabilities across the group to develop, own and operate renewable energy infrastructure in a cost-efficient, safe and reliable manner.
“We can also work with the group’s asset management platforms, such as the Keppel Asia Infrastructure Fund, to help fund the project.”
Keppel’s acquisition of the 45% stake in Harlin Solar remained subject to approval by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board. But if as expected it goes ahead, Keppel will, upon reaching certain development milestones, have options to acquire the remaining stake in the solar farm for an aggregate maximum consideration of $52.35 million.
Construction of the Harlin solar farm is expected to commence in 2022 and be completed in 2023.
A sod-turning ceremony was held at the Harlin site in February 2020 with the developers declaring then that the project would eventually deliver 1.5 GW of solar PV and 500 MWh of energy storage.
Youssef told pv magazine at the time that the facility would be developed in stages with the project to also feature two substations and a 500 MWh energy storage facility which would be added at a later date.
While the deal with Keppel focused only on a 500 MW facility, the project will overshadow any other PV plant currently under construction in Australia, including the 460 MW Western Downs Green Power Hub being developed by Neoen at Chinchilla, about 230kms to the east.
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