CEFC commits $37 million to new solar farm

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The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has disclosed a $37 million commitment to Blue Grass Solar Farm, on behalf of the federal government.

The pledge is CEFC’s 32nd solar farm investment since its inception, supporting the latest solar technology to further strengthen the country’s renewable energy grid while providing vital infrastructure to the Queensland region.

The 200 MWp Blue Grass solar farm in Columboola, southeast Queensland, will feature bifacial solar panels and half-cut cell technology, both of which increase performance and efficiency.

The investment will also support Solar 30 30 30, an ARENA-led initiative that will help achieve ultra-low-cost solar power.

The initiative aims for solar PV to achieve 30% efficiency at 30 cents per installed watt by 2030, and will help reduce costs to meet the solar electricity generation target of $15 per MWh.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonthm said: “This latest investment in renewables demonstrates that CEFC’s expertise and capital are at the heart of the continued evolution of the sector.

“Blue Grass Solar Farm will include the latest technology that this innovative sector can provide and will truly be a solar farm for the 21st century.

“Since our early investments, CEFC has been instrumental in developing renewable energy capacity, which is critical to reducing emissions in our economy.

Mr Learmonthm said CEFC has risen to the financial challenge of supporting early developments, while providing substantial investment and jobs to regional Australia; alongside industry during difficult economic times such as COVID-19, while building market confidence and attracting private sector capital.

“With this latest investment, we are proud to have contributed to the delivery of over 3.5 GW of low-emission generation capacity, including 2 GW of solar power and 1.5 GW of wind power. This clean energy will support our energy transition for generations to come,” said Learmonthm.

Investment builds on new renewable energy investment commitments by CEFC of $810 million in 2020-21, representing a 53% increase from $529 million the previous year , and reflects its investments in large-scale battery projects and the historic Snowy 2.0. the expansion of the network infrastructure.

“The transition to net-zero emissions requires substantial decarbonization, at a much faster rate than we are currently achieving. One of the most effective ways to do this is to strengthen Australia’s renewable energy sector and reduce the cost of solar photovoltaic generation to help meet the ambitious goals of technologies such as green hydrogen, steel and low-emission aluminum,” said Learmonth.

Blue Grass Solar Farm is Australia’s first project sponsored by experienced renewable energy developer, X-Elio, and will be realized through a partnership between Brookfield and KKR, which has built over 2GW of solar PV power plants in more than 10 country.

Belinda Fan, Country Manager of X-ELIO in Australia, said: “We are delighted to have closed the financial close of Blue Grass Solar Farm, our largest solar project in Australia and one that strengthens our position in the domestic solar market. renewable energies where we continue to seize new growth opportunities.

“This includes over 600MW of projects in our development pipeline which is growing exponentially every year.

“X-ELIO is a global company with a local mindset, and we are committed to improving economic and social outcomes in the local communities and regions where we operate.”

Blue Grass Solar Farm is expected to reduce emissions by approximately 320,000 tons of CO2-e per year. It will feature 375,000 bifacial solar panels, which have increased production capacity compared to existing panels, as well as half-cut cell technology that shrinks the cell to half its normal size.

This latest innovation means that smaller cells produce half the current, reducing power loss and improving efficiency to produce more power.

X-Elio estimates that around 400 regional jobs will be created during construction, which is expected to be completed in 2022.

A corporate power purchase agreement with US tech giant Salesforce will see it buy 25% of Blue Grass’s output, contributing to its commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2022 It is the US tech giant’s first renewable energy off-take deal in Australia. .

Queensland government-owned generation company Stanwell will also buy a share of power generation, to help meet customer demand for green power and support the state’s transition to a low-carbon future. carbon.

The CEFC pledge is part of a syndicate of lenders that also includes ING and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).

The Blue Grass Solar Farm will be built 20 km west of Chinchilla in the Darling Downs Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

A REZ involves the coordinated development of new grid infrastructure in areas with abundant renewable energy resources, in an efficient and cost-effective manner, by connecting multiple generators to the grid in the same area.

In phase 1 of the AEMO 2020 Integrated System Plan, Projects like this are being developed to take advantage of existing spare grid capacity to help Queensland’s ambitions to reach 50% renewable energy generation by 2030.

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