CEFC announces milestone wind project

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The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has added another project to its renewable energy portfolio with the announcement of its 10th large-scale wind project investment. The project, which is based in New South Wales, will see CEFC’s overall commitment to wind top $700 million.

CEFC wind commitments have catalysed an additional $3.1 billion in private sector capital, driving significant investment to accelerate the development of more than 1.65GW of additional renewable energy capacity.

This includes the CEFC’s latest $38 million commitment to the 135MW Crudine Ridge Wind Farm near Mudgee in NSW. The project will provide enough electricity to power around 55,000 homes each year and is expected to deliver more than eight million tonnes of carbon emissions abatement over its lifetime.

“CEFC finance has helped deliver almost 30 per cent of new wind capacity in Australia since 2013, contributing to a robust ecosystem of local and international project developers, contractors, advisors and financial institutions,” CEFC Wind Investment lead Andrew Gardner said.

“We are proud to have worked alongside project developers and other financiers to deliver significant growth in this important clean energy source, which is critical to reducing emissions from our energy-intensive electricity sector.

“Large-scale wind projects such as the Crudine Ridge Wind Farm continue to deliver new sources of revenue and jobs to regional and rural communities, enabling them to tap into the benefits of abundant and low cost clean energy resources.”

The $250 million Crudine Ridge Wind Farm is being developed by CWP Renewables and Partners Group, with the CEFC participating in a $113 million senior debt facility alongside Westpac and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. The wind farm also has a partial energy offtake agreement with Meridian Energy Australia.

The project will contribute more than $168,000 per year to Community Enhancement Funds established with the Mid-Western and Bathurst Regional Councils, as well as support upgrades to more than 20 km of local council roads. In addition, 19 host landowners will benefit from rental income throughout the life of the project, with neighbour agreements helping distribute funds to others in the local community.

The wind farm is expected to support 75 full time equivalent jobs during construction, stimulating further investment in local businesses and services.

“It is great to be starting our third wind farm in NSW and the second project with the CEFC. Half of the project’s generation is being sold to green energy retailer, Meridian Energy, and the remainder is being purchased progressively by corporate customers. We are very impressed by the level of interest from large energy users, who are seeking competitively priced clean energy that can be shaped to their specific electricity requirements,” CWP Renewables CEO, Alex Hewitt said.

The ten wind projects directly financed by the CEFC are in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. The CEFC has also indirectly invested in wind projects via its commitments to green bonds and equity funds.

Since the CEFC began investing in 2013, a total of 44 wind projects have been built or reached financial close in Australia. Those projects amount to just over 6GW of new capacity and represent around $13 billion of new investment.

“Every CEFC dollar of direct investment in wind projects has been matched by more than $4.40 from the private sector, to support projects with a total value of $3.8 billion. This is a very robust level of private sector capital and confirms the critical role we are playing in accelerating the flow of finance into clean energy investment while helping to drive down development and energy costs,” CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said.

“Australia has seen enormous progress in lowering the levelised cost of wind through declining up-front installation costs, increased turbine sizes and longer turbine design lives. Despite the increasing maturity of the wind sector in Australia, financing for uncontracted projects remains a challenge. We see our role as contributing to developer and investor confidence in backing these partially-contracted developments to support continued investment.”

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