Commonwealth Bank Finances $121 Million NSW Solar Farm


Image: Commonwealth Bank

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has announced plans to fund the New England Solar Farm which is a utility-scale solar farm currently under construction in Uralla, New South Wales.

CBA is partnering with three other large banks in financing $121 million to UPC\AC Renewables Australia to construct the new solar farm in Northern Central NSW.

CBA will provide a third of the funding for stage one of the solar farm project to UPC\AC Renewables Australia through a five-year syndicated debt facility co-led by CBA, Westpac and Bank of China.

CBA will also support the New England Solar Farm through a Bank Guarantee, Interest Rate Hedging, Account Bank and Agency and Security Trustee solutions.

Stage 1 – New England Solar Farm

This multi-million-dollar deal to fund the 400MWah solar farm will see more than 950,000 solar panels installed at the Uralla site. The project's first stage is already under construction and will add 400MWah of electricity to the National Electricity Market once complete. The energy generated from this utility-scale solar farm will be enough to power 240,000 NSW homes each year. Further project stages are planning to expand the solar farm's capacity to 720Mwah. Once completed, the New England Solar Farm will be the largest-joint solar farm in Australia.

The Lithium-Ion Battery

Development plans for the solar farm also include a 400MWh lithium-ion battery that will be co-located at the site. The battery will assist with the electricity grid's stability by delivering energy during peak periods and reducing electricity prices for consumers.

UPC\AC Renewables and the Commonwealth Bank

Chief Executive of UPC\AC Renewables Australia, Anton Rohner commented on the project saying: "It's exciting to achieve financial close on a merchant basis for such a large project, which is the first of many such projects we have in Australia. UPC\AC Renewables Australia views this project fitting into the NSW Government RoadMap and look forward to being engaged in this process to help lower electricity prices in NSW.

"This is the culmination of 3.5 years of hard work by our team and excellent engagement with the local community. We thank the Uralla and New England community for their support."

Commonwealth Bank Managing Director of Sustainable Finance and ESG, Charles Davis also spoke of the partnership positively in a statement.

"CBA is pleased to partner with UPC\AC Renewables Australia in what is a significant development in Australia's transition to reduce carbon emissions. As the nation's largest bank, we are committed to Australia's renewable energy sector and to supporting high-quality clean energy projects.

"We believe the development of the New England Solar Farm is aligned with the goals of the NSW Government's Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, with it contributing to the de-carbonisation of the electricity industry through the development of low-cost renewable energy.

"We are also proud to support a project that will bring jobs to rural NSW and one that will continue to have strong community engagement well into the future through its community benefits plans," Mr Davis said.

The Commonwealth Bank has funded eleven similar renewable energy companies and large-scale solar farm projects across Australia in the past five years.

UPC\AC Renewables Australia expects grid connection and energy production from the solar farm by July 2022 with the remainder of the project brought online over the following two years.

Source: CBA Newsroom

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