QIC-backed 453MW wind farm hits financial close

The $676m project, set to be the largest of its kind in Australia upon completion, is owned by a vehicle established jointly by QIC and AGL last year.

The Coopers Gap Wind Farm, a 453MW facility backed by Powering Australian Renewables Fund, has secured a combined A$850 million ($676 million; €575 million) at financial close. 

Australian utility AGL Energy and fund manager QIC jointly established the A$1 billion PARF in July 2016, with a target to develop around 1GW of large-scale renewables projects to be operated and managed by AGL. The latter transferred the ownership of the Coopers Gap project to the fund for A$22 million, which brought no profit on sale from the transaction. 

The wind farm’s total development is estimated at A$850 million, funded through a combination of PARF partners’ equity and lending from Westpac Banking Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Société Générale, DBS Bank, Mizuho Bank and ABN Amro.

AGL has agreed to buy electricity generated from the project at a bundled offtake price of less than A$60 per MWh for the first five years. The rate includes both electricity and associated renewable energy certificates. This is also a put/call option to extend for the following five years at the same or lower price, according to AGL. 

A joint venture between GE and Catcon has been appointed as the EPC contractor for the project, which is scheduled to commence operations by mid-2019. 

More than 800MW of projects have been acquired by PARF since inception, said Andy Vesey, managing director and chief executive of AGL. Previous investments include the Silverton Wind Farm and Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants in New South Wales.

“Certainty on energy policy, including the implementation of the recommendations of the Finkel Review, will enable more projects of this kind to go ahead and help place downward pressure on energy prices by increasing supply,” Vesey added. 

Ross Israel, head of global infrastructure at QIC, added that “the project is the largest committed renewables project in the state”.

QIC has committed to an 80 percent interest of the PARF, on behalf of QIC Global Infrastructure Fund and Future Fund, while AGL took a 20 percent stake. The vehicle will contribute to the country’s target of having 5GW of new renewable energy generation capacity by 2020.