CEFC finance for Queensland solar projects
By Sustainability Matters Staff
Wednesday, 03 May, 2017
Two Queensland-based solar projects are on track to begin construction, thanks to a $31.5 million commitment from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) large-scale solar financing program. The projects, based in the regional towns of Longreach and Oakey, are being undertaken by Canadian Solar and will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 12,000 homes.
“Solar is an increasingly cost-effective energy solution in areas like Longreach and Oakey, which have high levels of solar irradiation,” said CEFC Large-Scale Solar lead Gloria Chan. “These two projects represent a significant injection into the Queensland economy that will drive further growth, expertise and diversity in the renewable energy sector. Another important benefit is that the land owners will generate a long-term leasing income from hosting the solar panels.”
Both projects will use single-axis tracking technology, which maximises the amount of generation achieved by enabling the panels to capture sunlight for a longer period each day than fixed panels. According to Canadian Solar General Manager Daniel Ruoss, the projects have received strong support from their local communities.
“We expect the Longreach Solar Farm, with its 54,600 panels across 86 hectares, to generate enough solar to power around 5000 Queensland homes,” Ruoss said.
“The Oakey Solar Farm, with its 93,600 panels across 60 hectares, is expected to generate enough power for around 7000 homes. We’re already planning for a 55 MW expansion to the Oakey project, once the first stage is constructed.”
The CEFC has committed $12 million in senior debt finance to the 15 MW (17 MWp) $28.7 million Longreach Solar Farm and $19.5 million to the 25 MW (30 MWp) $47.5 million Oakey Solar Farm. Canadian Solar has secured long-term offtake agreements with the Queensland Government for the power generated by both farms, as well as debt finance from Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and $3.5 million in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The projects are expected to employ around 80 people during construction, with RCR O’Donnell Griffin undertaking engineering, procurement and construction. Construction is expected to begin this month and to reach commercial operations in the first quarter of 2018.
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