Case studies

Large-scale solar for central Queensland

Large-scale solar project builds capacity, reduces network transmission losses

The 20MW (AC) Barcaldine Solar Farm in Central Queensland began exporting power to the grid in December 2016 and is expected to generate enough power to supply around 5,300 homes.

Barcaldine is more than 1,000km north-west of Brisbane and 680km west of Gladstone. The 90-hectare Barcaldine Solar Farm's 79,000 solar modules use single-axis tracking technology to maximise the effectiveness of the PV panels as they follow the sun.

The CEFC committed up to $20 million in cornerstone debt finance for the development of the Barcaldine Solar Farm, which also secured $22.8 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The project sponsor, Elecnor, provided equity investment. The project was planned and developed by the Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm Pty Ltd (BRCSF), a company owned by Elecnor Australia Pty Ltd. Elecnor Australia is a subsidiary of Elecnor SA, one of the world's leading solar energy development companies.

Elecnor sold the solar farm in February 2017 to an investment vehicle managed by Foresight Group with equity financing provided by KDB Infrastructure Investments Asset Management Co Ltd and Hanwha Energy. The CEFC's debt finance continues to be serviced under the new ownership.

The experience developed from building a large-scale solar PV farm in a fringe-of-grid area demonstrates the potential for solar projects to increase the reliability and quality of power at fringe-of-grid locations. This experience also provides useful lessons for the future rollout of off-grid remote area solar PV projects, such as those serving remote communities and mining operations.