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First ARENA solar projects cross the line
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First ARENA solar projects cross the line

Financial close has been reached for three solar projects in regional NSW, the first of 12 approved applications for Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding.

Firms: Baker McKenzie and Herbert Smith Freehills (Neoen); Herbert Smith Freehills (Clean Energy Finance Corporation); DLA Piper (Australian Renewable Energy Agency)

Deal: Financial close has been reached for three major solar farms in regional NSW to be granted funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), with a total project cost of $230 million.

Value: $230 million

Area: Energy, finance, construction

Key players: The Baker McKenzie team advising Neoen Australia in a sponsor counsel capacity was led by partner Paul Curnow.

The HSF team advising Neoen on the construction, operation and financing aspects of the projects was led by partners Elizabeth Charlesworth, Andrew Clark and Joel Rennie.

HSF also advised debt financier the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on the projects.

The DLA Piper team advising the ARENA on the bid process and funding agreements for the three projects was led by partners Kate Papailiou (pictured) and David Harley.

Deal significance:

Three solar farms, located in regional NSW, are the first projects with debt financing as part of the ARENA’s $92 million large-scale solar photovoltaics program to reach financial close.

With a total project cost of $230 million, French renewable energy developer Neoen will own and develop the solar farms. The lead contractor for construction of the sites is Bouygues Construction Australia.

The CEFC, along with funding from the ARENA, is providing the debt financing for the wind farms situated near the towns of Parkes, Griffith and Dubbo.

According to a statement from HSF, the 30MW solar farm in Griffith and the 55MW solar farm in Parkes are both underpinned by power offtake agreements with French energy company ENGIE. The 25MW Dubbo solar farm, however, is being developed and project-financed on a fully merchant basis.

Baker McKenzie partner Paul Curnow, who advised Neoen Australia as sponsor counsel, said being the first projects out of the ARENA’s 12 grant recipients to reach financial close was a good result.

“To be one of the first of 12 approved grant applications to reach financial close is very pleasing for both us and our client,” Mr Curnow said.

HSF Asia-Pacific renewable energy specialist Toby Anderson agreed.

“Achievement of financial close was due to a huge level of work and commitment from all involved.

“Our projects and finance teams have worked very closely with Neoen and CEFC to reach this milestone,” he said.


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