Renewable energy producer Neoen has reached financial close on Western Downs Green Power Hub — a 460 MWp solar farm located near Chinchilla in South West Queensland. Owned outright by Neoen, it is reported that Western Downs will be the largest solar farm in Australia, delivering clean energy into Powerlink’s transmission network and bringing significant economic benefits to the region.
The financing of Western Downs was completed five months after Neoen secured a 352 MWp power purchase agreement with CleanCo Queensland, in one of Australia’s most substantial renewable contracts to date. The project will contribute more than 30% of the energy required for CleanCo to meet its target of 1 GW of new renewable energy generation by 2025. CleanCo is focused on activities that contribute to achieving the Sunshine State’s 50% renewable energy target by 2030 and create new investment and jobs in regional Queensland.
Total project costs will amount to approximately $600 million, with debt provided by a syndicate of seven lenders: Natixis, Société Générale, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, NORD/LB, HSBC and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The investment is expected to create over 400 construction jobs in the local area and South West Queensland region. Sterling & Wilson was appointed as the project’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor in May, with design and engineering works beginning in June and site mobilisation expected in Q4 2020.
Neoen Australia Managing Director Louis de Sambucy said, “We are delighted to announce that Western Downs Green Power Hub has reached this important financial milestone. It represents a major achievement in a challenging environment.
“I would like to congratulate the team and thank our bank group and advisors for their trust and commitment. We are extremely proud to be partnering with CleanCo and Powerlink and we’re looking forward to playing our part in helping Queensland reach its ambitious target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.”
CleanCo Queensland CEO Maia Schweizer added, “We are thrilled to be involved in the Western Downs Green Power Hub, which will help drive electricity affordability and create regional growth and jobs for Queenslanders.
“Generation from projects like the Western Downs Green Power Hub and our portfolio of hydro and gas allows us to supply reliable clean energy products tailored to commercial and industrial customers at competitive prices.”
Neoen Chairman and CEO Xavier Barbaro said, “We are excited to be extending our Australian footprint into the great Sunshine State of Queensland.
“At 460 MWp it will be the largest solar farm in our global portfolio and will take our total operating capacity in Australia to over 1.5 GW. The financing of Western Downs Green Power Hub in the current environment demonstrates again how our business model of long-term ownership provides confidence to our lenders.”
Construction of the facility is expected to take longer than a year, with energy generation scheduled to commence in 2022. The solar farm will generate energy to power 235,000 Queensland homes, or enough to power every home on the Sunshine Coast.