CIMIC subsidiary UGL has been awarded a contract by Foresight Solar Australia to design and build stage one of the Bannerton Solar Park, near Robinvale in Victoria.
The contract is expected to be worth $113 million over a three-year term for the construction of the 110-megawatt solar park.
UGL will undertake the engineering, procurement and construction of stage one of the solar park, including associated substation and Powercor Australia grid connection..
The contract is due to commence in late 2017, and is expected to be generating power to the grid from July 2018. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is committing approximately $98 million in debt finance towards the project.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the CEFC had invested as the sole debt financier to accelerate the project which, due to the rapidly falling cost of constructing solar in Australia, is being developed without any grant support.
"Previously it wasn't viable to construct solar of this scale in Victoria, which has good insolation rates, but not as high as the northern states. We have witnessed rapidly improving economic conditions that now make this project commercially viable without the need for grant funding," Mr Learmonth said.
"What's more, through the recent agreement struck with the Victorian Government, Bannerton Solar Park will effectively help power Melbourne's iconic tram network, reducing the city's public transport emissions, making an important contribution to decarbonisation of the economy," he added.
The project is being developed by a joint venture between independent global infrastructure and private equity investment manager Foresight Group and Syncline Energy, a Victoria-based developer. The Bannerton project is helping build diversity in Victoria's evolving renewable energy mix, as the state embraces renewable energy alternatives to replace its aging coal-fired generators.
Once operational, UGL will provide operation and maintenance services for a two-year period.
CIMIC Group Chief Executive Officer Adolfo Valderas said that “CCIMIC and UGL are pleased to be delivering this significant solar project and support ing the growth of the renewable energy market in Victoria.”
"UGL has strong expertise in the renewable energy sector , with nine current and past solar projects around Australia. We are pleased to have this opportunity to contribute to the further expansion of the renewable energy market,” UGL Managing Director Jason Spears said.
UGL currently has four solar projects under construction: Emu Downs in Western Australia, Kidston and Collinsville in Queensland and White Rock in New South Wales.
It will see the construction of new powerlines to connect the solar farm to the grid. The project's inverters, which convert the solar DC electricity to AC electricity for export to the network, will also help provide voltage support on the grid, so the project meets AEMO's continuous uninterrupted operations requirements in the event of grid faults.
Bannerton is the CEFC's second investment in a solar farm in Victoria. In March this year, the CEFC announced its first solar farm in Victoria, committing finance to Edify Energy's 50MW (AC) Gannawarra Solar Farm, west of Kerang. Earlier, the CEFC also committed $67 million in senior debt financing to the Ararat Wind Farm, as well as $73 million to finance the final stage of the Portland Wind Farm in south west Victoria.