The Australian solar arm of British oil major BP, Lightsource bp Australia, says it has secured AUD$330 million in financing for the construction of its 107 MW (DC) West Wyalong Solar Farm in New South Wales (NSW) and the 214 MW (DC) Woolooga Solar Farm in Queensland (QLD).
The news comes hot on the heels of BP’s announcement earlier this week that it will pay US$220 million for 9 GW of solar development projects in the U.S. from Texas-based 7X Energy. pv magazine USA reports that the assets will be developed through Lightsource bp across 12 states and expect to generate returns of at least 8-10%. The deal pushes BP toward its renewable capacity target of 20 GW by 2025 and 50 GW by 2030.
The AUD$330 million finance package secured from EDC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo and Westpac, means PCL Constructors Pacific Rim can begin construction on the two solar farms immediately, and speaks to the strength of green finance in what is still a volatile economic period.
Lightsource bp says the two projects bring the company’s under construction Australian capacity to over 500 MW (DC), and its overall Australian pipeline to 1.5 GW (DC), no doubt inclusive of its 400 MW (DC) Wellington North Solar Farm, which received approval last month from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment as part the developer’s 600 MW (DC) Wellington Solar Hub in central western NSW.
“Although Covid-19 has disrupted the energy landscape,” said Lightsource bp Australia country manager, Adam Pegg, “we are proud to be able to start construction and complete the financing of two large solar projects on a subsidy-free basis, demonstrating the resilience of solar as a sustainable solution to meeting the rising global energy demands.”
The two projects, which are expected to be in commercial operation by mid-2022, will be able to generate around 673 GWh of solar energy annually, enough to power approximately 100,000 Australian homes and save the emissions of 225,000 non-electric cars.
Good policy, big pipeline
Lightsource bp and its investors pointed to supportive policies from both the QLD and NSW governments for making these projects possible. QLD’s 50% renewable energy by 2030 ambition and NSW’s 12 GW in ten years pledge were singled out in a Lightsource bp statement for unleashing “a great deal of private investment opportunities in Australia’s renewables sector.”
Westpac Institutional Bank CEO, Anthony Miller, said “It is fantastic to support Lightsource bp in these two large scale solar projects in NSW and QLD. Solar will play a significant role in Australia’s energy transition and Westpac is looking forward to working with Lightsource bp in the pursuit of that goal.”
Snowy Hydro has already signed a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the West Wyalong Solar Farm, which will see two-thirds of the project’s energy used to supply 88 NSW service stations with 23,000 MWh of clean energy.
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