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CEFC funds Victoria’s largest solar farm

Asia / 04-10-17 / by
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Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has committed A$98mn to a solar farm in Victoria state.

The 110MW Bannerton Solar Park will be the state’s largest, and will contain 320,000 solar panels and supply 30,000 homes with solar energy.

CEFC has stepped in as the sole debt financier to accelerate the project which, “due to the rapidly falling cost of constructing solar in Australia, is being developed without any grant support”.

The project recently secured equity investment from the UK company Foresight Solar Fund Limited, the Korean government-owned Korean Infrastructure Asset Management Company and Hanwha Energy, a private Korean company.

It’s the latest in a line of large-scale solar projects in Australia, many of which have involved CEFC. This is the organisation’s second solar farm financing in Victoria, following a 60MW facility in Gannawarra which secured funding in March.

The organisation’s head of large-scale solar, Gloria Chan, tells GTR that the industry has undergone a sea change.

“Over the last 12 months, it’s been a big shift for large-scale solar market in Australia. The work of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency combined with our own work have sent a signal to the market, saying: ‘You can put actual resources into these projects, because we’re interested in investing,’” she says.

The project will be developed by a joint venture of UK-listed Foresight Group, an infrastructure and private equity investor, and Victoria-based developer Syncline Energy. The plant will be online by July 2018 and construction should create 180 jobs.

CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth also speaks about the changing paradigm for Australia solar, which has been gathering pace for the past 12 months.

“Previously it wasn’t viable to construct solar of this scale in Victoria, which has good insolation rates, but not as high as the northern states. We have witnessed rapidly improving economic conditions that now make this project commercially viable without the need for grant funding,” he says in a release.

A boom in Australia’s solar sector is long overdue, given the fact that it is one of the sunniest developed countries in the world. Its growth has coincided by a shift in government policy, after the previous Tony Abbott administration effectively shut down the CEFC .

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