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Western Downs Green Power Hub, the largest solar farm in Australia, is now officially owned by Neoen, as the company completes financial close on the sale.

Western Downs, a 460MWp solar farm located near Chinchilla in South West Queensland, will deliver clean energy into Powerlink’s transmission network and is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the region.

The financing of Western Downs was completed five months after Neoen secured a 352MWp power purchase agreement with CleanCo Queensland, in one of Australia’s most substantial renewable contracts to date. 

The project will contribute over 30 per cent of the energy required for CleanCo to meet its target of 1GW of new renewable energy generation by 2025. 

CleanCo is focused on activities that contribute to achieving the sunshine state’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 and create new investment and jobs in regional Queensland.

Total project costs will amount to approximately $600 million, with debt provided by a syndicate of seven lenders: Natixis, Société Générale, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MUFG Bank, NORD/LB, HSBC and Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

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 mobilisation 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 delighted to announce that Western Downs Green Power Hub has reached this important financial milestone. 

“It represents a major achievement in a challenging environment. I would like to congratulate the team and thank our bank group and advisors for their trust and commitment. 

“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 per cent renewable energy by 2030.”

Maia Schweizer, CleanCo Queensland’s CEO, said, “We are thrilled to be involved in the Western Downs Green Power Hub, which will help drive electricity affordability and create regional growth and jobs for Queenslanders. 

“Generation from projects like the Western Downs Green Power Hub and our portfolio of hydro and gas allows us to supply reliable clean energy products tailored to commercial and industrial customers at competitive prices.”

Xavier Barbaro, Neoen’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are excited to be extending our Australian footprint into the great sunshine state of Queensland. 

“At 460MWp it will be the largest solar farm in our global portfolio and will take our total operating capacity in Australia to over 1.5GW. 

“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.”

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