The recent financial close of an 87 megawatts (MW) Beryl Solar Farm project in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, will help deliver power to the new generation metro railway services in the state capital Sydney. The majority of the clean energy generated by Beryl Solar Farm – approximately 134,000 Megawatt hours a year – will offset the entire operational needs of the new Sydney Metro Northwest railway, which opens in the first half of 2019.
The Beryl Solar Farm, one of the biggest solar projects in the state, will be powered by more than 260,000 advanced solar modules and will produce enough green energy to displace more than 167,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year – the equivalent to taking about 45,000 cars off the road.
Societe Generale acted as Mandated Lead Arranger, Bookrunner & Underwriter and Swap Bank on the approximately AUD150m project financing for the Beryl Solar Farm in Australia.
The project is developed and owned by one of the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) solar module manufacturers First Solar, headquartered in Arizona and listed on the NASDAQ.
Australia has made strong commitments in recent years to reduce its emissions and accelerate its renewable energy generation. In 2015, the government reformed its Renewable Energy Target (RET) to achieve the large-scale generation of 33,000 GWh by 2020, meaning about 23.5% of the country’s electricity generation in 2020 will be from renewable sources. Meanwhile, it has a 50-52 per cent reduction target in emissions per capita between 2005 and 2030.
In 2016, renewables made a record-breaking contribution of 19.6 per cent to New South Wales’ electricity from hydro, solar, wind, bioenergy and small hydro.
Reducing carbon emissions from transport will play an important role in achieving Australia’s sustainability targets. According to The Climate Counsel, transport is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and has the highest rate of growth, with cars being responsible for roughly half of all transport emissions.
Sydney Metro Northwest is the first stage of the AU$20 billion-plus Sydney Metro program of works and will become the first fully-automated metro rail system in Australia. With services starting in the first half of 2019, it will deliver a much-needed fast and reliable public transport service to a region with the highest car ownership levels per household in Australia. In peak times, services will arrive every four minutes.
“We are very pleased to close the financing of Beryl Solar Farm which will play a key role in fulfilling the State’s commitment to renewable energy. Societe Generale’s extensive experience in renewables in the region proved invaluable for the successful financing of this project,” said Kent Draper, First Solar’s Vice President of Project Finance and Asset Management for Asia Pacific.
“Societe Generale has established a market-leading position in positive impact finance globally, which is a reflection of the bank’s commitment to support and drive forward the development of clean energy. We have been working with First Solar in different regions and are well-positioned to continue to support our client providing clean, renewable energy worldwide. With the successful financing of Beryl Solar Farm, we are very proud to have now financed over 5.5 GW of solar, wind and hydro generation capacities in Asia Pacific,” said Daniel Mallo, Head of Natural Resources and Infrastructure for Asia Pacific, Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking