First Solar, a solar thin film manufacturer, has secured a project finance facility to build a power plant in New South Wales, Australia.
The A$151mn (around US$113mn) funding was provided by MUFG Bank, Société Générale and Mizuho Bank – showing that the sector continues to interest international banks.
It will be used to construct the Beryl solar farm, an 87MW solar PV facility 5km from the town of Gulgong. It will be the first to use First Solar’s new series 6 thin film PV modules.
Transmission work will be undertaken by Transgrid, which will be tasked to hooking it up to its Beryl substation, and getting the power onto the grid.
“This connection will allow the export of 87MW of power into the National Electricity Market – enough to serve the needs of approximately 25,000 average NSW homes, while the associated carbon emission displacement is equivalent to taking about 45,000 cars off the road,” says Transgrid’s head of business growth, Richard Lowe.
The construction contract has been awarded to Downer EDI, with construction set to create 150 jobs over the one-year project lifecycle.
“Large-scale projects are critical to our regional communities and we are looking forward to partnering with First Solar to deliver the Beryl solar farm that will see significant economic and environmental benefits in regional New South Wales,” says Grant Fenn, Downer CEO.
Australia’s solar sector has been experiencing a boom over the past couple of years. A change in the national leadership led to a removal in punitive measures which were damaging its growth. Numerous state-owned agencies were defanged under the Tony Abbott government, with Liberal successor Malcolm Turnbull removing many of them.
Government funding has poured into the industry through vehicles such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has the stated aim of encouraging private sector in the renewable energy sector, through its own financial support.
With two Japanese banks and a French bank on this ticket, it would seem that the message is being heard loud and clear.