Wirsol Energy and Edify Energy Complete Landmark $380m Solar Financing in Australia

198MWp Installed Capacity Across 3 projects in Queensland and Victoria

  • The $380m and 198 MWp DC installed capacity transaction marks Australia’s largest single solar project financing deal
  • Three large-scale solar farms to be completed by Q1 2018, including the first to be constructed in Victoria and will create a combined peak of 300 jobs
  • The portfolio consists of a blend of long-term contracted and merchant projects including the QLD Government and ARENA supported Whitsunday Solar Farm and an EnergyAustralia offtake agreement for the Gannawarra Solar Farm
  • A long-term syndicated $230m debt facility will be provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and NORD/LB; the long tenor of this financing is rare for a domestic commercial bank lending to renewable projects
  • Bouygues Construction Australia has been awarded an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the Whitsunday and Hamilton Solar Farms; Australian contractor RCR Tomlinson has been awarded the EPC contract for the Gannawarra Solar Farm

Australian renewable energy developer Edify Energy and German group Wirsol have successfully completed Australia’s largest single solar project financing to build and operate three new large-scale solar farms: the Whitsunday and Hamilton Solar Farms in Queensland, and the Gannawarra Solar Farm in Victoria.  When complete in Q1 2018, the Queensland and Victorian markets will benefit from an additional 198 MWp of renewable capacity, including the first large-scale solar farm in Victoria.

Mark Hogan, MD of Wirsol Energy Limited said “We are thrilled to announce the successful acquisition and refinancing of this portfolio as it marks our first move into the Australian renewable sector.  Our success in Australia has been driven by the significant experience accrued in the European market and deploying 1 GW of solar to date.  We believe this transaction demonstrates the importance of bringing together industry knowledge and local expertise to successfully develop, construct and finance large-scale renewable projects.  This transaction firmly positions Wirsol as one of Australia’s leading renewable investors.  We will continue building on this success and are actively seeking to acquire further development opportunities to fulfil our internal ambition of deploying 1GWp solar across Australia by 2020.”

Edify Energy CEO John Cole is confident that investment in large-scale renewable energy will become more common place.  “Transactions such as this demonstrate that the combination of project development and structuring expertise, and investment confidence is once again present in the Australian renewable sector.  Since acquiring the sites from Solar Choice in 2015, we have taken these projects through the whole land, planning, grid connection and financing process, always with a view to maximising the volume of capacity we can deliver.  We are looking to replicate this scale mindset across the rest of our development pipeline and hope to hear of other project developers doing the same.”

The Whitsunday Solar Farm is supported by the Queensland Government by way of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) under its Solar 150 Program and the Commonwealth Government through the award of an ARENA grant up to $9.5 million in September 2016.  The Gannawarra Solar Farm will benefit from a long-term PPA with EnergyAustralia.  The Hamilton Solar Farm is co-located with the Whitsunday Solar Farm and has been financed on a merchant basis including a short-term contract with ERM Power.

This landmark financing brings together a syndicate of domestic and international banks – CEFC, CBA and NORD/LB – providing a $230m long-term debt facility across the portfolio of contracted and merchant projects.  Issuing long-term debt to renewable projects is rare for domestic commercial banks such as CBA, particularly considering the large merchant component to the portfolio.  Elgar Middleton were financial advisers to the transaction.  Ashurst, Norton Rose Fulbright and Allens provided legal advice.

Construction on all three projects will commence shortly, with the townships of Collinsville, Queensland and Kerang, Victoria exhibiting strong community support to date and expecting to benefit from a peak of 200 and 100 jobs across the two sites respectively.  The construction of the Whitsunday and Hamilton Solar Farms will benefit from the international experience of Bouygues Construction Australia.  The Gannawarra Solar Farm will be constructed by Australian firm RCR Tomlinson.  OST Energy represented Wirsol as technical advisers for the three projects as they have represented Wirsol across 24 projects previously in the UK.

Key project attributes

Attribute Whitsunday Solar Farm Hamilton Solar Farm Gannawarra Solar Farm
Location North of Collinsville, QLD North of Collinsville, QLD West of Kerang, VIC
Size 57.5 MW AC

69.0 MWp DC

390 acres

57.5 MW AC

69.0 MWp DC

380 acres

50.0 MW AC

60.0 MWp DC

350 acres

Annual output 144,000 MWh

31,000 homes powered

144,000 MWh

31,000 homes powered

116,000 MWh

25,000 homes powered

Offtaker QLD Government Solar 150 ERM Power (short-term) EnergyAustralia
Grant ARENA up to $9.5m
Construction start Q1 2017 Q1 2017 Q2 2017
Commercial operations Q1 2018 Q1 2018 Q1 201

Wirsol Energy Opens Office and Registered Entity in Sydney, Australia

  • Wirsol Energy Ltd, UK establishes new subsidiary in Australia
  • Wirsol Energy Pty. Ltd. opens new office in Manly, Sydney, Australia
  • Wirsol will plan to deploy up to 1GWp of solar power by 2020

Following on from the recent announcement of Wirsol acquiring and funding 198MWp of solar parks across Australia, Wirsol announce the opening of their subsidiary in Australia, Wirsol Energy Pty. Ltd. together with the establishment of an office in Manly, Sydney, Australia. Wirsol will have staff relocated from the UK and recruit local expertise to support the growth of the business over coming years.

Mark Hogan, MD of Wirsol Energy Limited said “The establishment of the entity and our business is a very major accomplishment for our business. With the announcement of the largest solar investment in Australia to date totaling $380m (€280m), we now move toward construction and the ongoing acquisition of solar assets in Australia. We believe our expertise within Wirsol coupled with the macro economic market dynamics will prove to be a winning recipe as we seek to fulfil our internal ambition of deploying 1GWp solar across Australia by 2020 and thus well in excess of one billion Euros and the creation of significant employment both internally and through our partner contractors.”