The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) announced Monday that it has committed approximately US$44.5 million in financing to RATCH-Australia Corporation — which the company will use to redevelop a disused coal-fired power station in Collinsville, Queensland, as a 42.5MW solar farm.
The PV project, which is expected to generate enough energy to power 15,000 homes, is also receiving additional funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
“We have been working on redevelopment options for the site for a really long time and it is great to finally see one of these options come to life,” RATCH-Australia Corporation executive general manager, business development, Anthony Yeates said. “The finance from the CEFC and ARENA's funding have helped us repurpose a disused site which receives optimal sunshine, and can take advantage of existing infrastructure to feed its solar output into the grid.”
According to Yeates, the project will feature 180,000 ground-mounted solar PV panels that will use a single-axis tracking system for maximum solar exposure.
The funding for RATCH-Australia Corporation stands as the 10th project that the CEFC has financed through its Large-Scale Solar Program, bringing its total program investment commitments to more than US$370 million — spurring solar projects with a total estimated project value of US$900 million and a total generating capacity of over 400MW.
“Since our program's launch in September 2015, the large-scale solar sector has transformed,” CEFC Large-Scale Solar Program lead Gloria Chan said. “Solar has become a progressively cost-competitive energy source and we are now at the tipping point of seeing Australian utility-scale solar projects becoming commercially viable without grant funding.
“Our finance has played a significant role in this transformation, given that in 2012 there was only 18MW of installed capacity and it's estimated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that there will be around 1,000MW installed by the end of 2018.”
Chan added: “There's been a strong influx of developers into the sector and an increasing investment appetite from a widening base of institutional investors, which has helped fuel the growth in solar capacity. Our debt finance has helped developers secure the backing they need and has helped investors find the right level of comfort to invest, so that projects can be constructed sooner.”
Highlights from the CEFC’s funding include a financial commitment to Victoria's first solar farm at Gannawarra and the financing for three major PV projects that will create a “solar belt” in New South Wales.