MANILA, Philippines — AC Energy and Infrastructure Inc. (ACEIC) and its partner have secured financing from three banks for their mega solar project in Australia, with plans to add battery storage facility.
UPCAC Renewables Australia, the joint venture of ACEIC and UPC Renewables, has reached financial close for the first 400-megawatt (MW) stage of the 750-MW New England Solar Farm at Uralla in New South Wales (NSW).
The firm said debt financing for the initial stage is being provided by Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Bank of China.
The 400-MW phase 1 of New England Solar Farm has a project cost of AUD619 million (roughly $481 million), with ACEIC committing $320 million (around AUD411 million) of equity in the project.
“It’s exciting to achieve financial close on a merchant basis for such a large project, which is the first of many such projects we have in Australia. UPCAC Renewables Australia views this project fitting into the NSW Government RoadMap and look forward to being engaged in this process to help lower electricity prices in NSW,” UPCAC Renewables CEO Anton Rohner said in a statement.
With early works including substation and road design started in late 2020, the company expects grid connection and initial energy production to occur by July 2022 while the remainder of the project is projected to be placed in service by end-2023.
The solar farm is being built by Green Light Contractors, the local subsidiary of Elecnor, a leading Spanish engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor with extensive experience building solar plants and transmission assets around the world.
The New England Solar Farm will contribute significantly to AC Energy’s goal of reaching 5,000 MW of renewables capacity by 2025, toward becoming the largest listed renewables platform in Southeast Asia.
“The New England Solar Farm is a major milestone for AC Energy as our first project in Australia,” AC Energy International COO Patrice Clausse said.
“This is the product of a fruitful partnership with UPC and our local Australian team. We look forward to helping Australia achieve and exceed its long-term decarbonization goals by continuing to develop and construct more renewable energy projects in the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, UPCAC Renewables is also planning to install up to a 400 megawatt-hour (MWh) lithium-ion battery storage facility, with the first 50 MWh, which is supported by the NSW Emerging Energy Program, expected to become operational in mid-2022.
The company said the battery system would assist with electricity grid stability and provide firm capability to deliver energy at peak periods, lowering prices for consumers.
Once fully constructed, the solar farm will produce enough energy to power approximately 250,000 typical NSW households each year and will supply energy to the market to help fill the gap left by the expected closure of the Liddell Power Station.
The New England Solar Farm is expected to participate in the NSW Electricity Infrastructure RoadMap bidding process to secure a long-term energy services agreement which will assist the NSW government to deliver lower energy prices to consumers.
The project is also UPC Renewables’ first project in Australia and is also the first within its large portfolio to reach financial close, UPC Renewables executive chairman Brian Caffyn said.
“We would like to thank our partner AC Energy for their financial and technical support in making this project a reality. This is a very large energy project even for Australia and we are proud to be associated with the New England Solar Farm and the local community and helping to transition NSW towards a clean, lower cost energy future,“ he said.