Neoen reaches financial close for Australia’s largest solar farm in the Western Downs region of Queensland

French independent power producer Neoen announces it has completed financial close on its Western Downs Green Power Hub project, a 460 MWp solar farm in South West Queensland.

The Western Downs Green Power Hub project is located 22km south-east of Chinchilla in the Western Downs Region, in close proximity to a transmission line and less than 6kms from Queensland Powerlink’s Western Downs Sub-station.

Entirely owned by Neoen, the 460 MWp solar farm 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 state-owned renewable energy generator and retailer CleanCo Queensland, in one of Australia’s most substantial renewable contracts to date. The solar farm will contribute over 30% of the energy required for CleanCo to meet its target of 1 GW of new renewable energy generation by 2025.

Total project costs will amount to approximately A$600 million. Debt will be provided by a syndicate of seven lenders (Natixis, Société Générale, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, NORD/LB, HSBC, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia), with Neoen retaining 100% equity stake.

The investment is expected to create over 400 construction jobs in the local area and South West Queensland region. Sterling & Wilson were appointed as the project’s Engineering, Procurement & Construction (EPC) contractor in May, design and engineering works began in June, and site mobilization is expected in Q4 2020.

Construction is expected to take over 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.

Louis de Sambucy, Neoen Australia’s Managing Director said:

“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.”

Xavier Barbaro, Neoen’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said:

“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.”

Source: Press release by Neoen. Photo credit: Sheba Also via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).