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CEFC congratulates Moree Solar Farm on achieving financial milestone

22 December, 2017

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation congratulated Moree Solar Farm on reaching a significant financing milestone, which will see full repayment of the CEFC finance for the project.

"This is another significant first for the CEFC and the Moree Solar Farm. This was our first investment in a large scale solar project, it was the first large-scale solar project in Australia to use tracking technology and it was the first project to initially proceed on a fully merchant basis," CEFC solar sector lead Monique Miller said.

"Within just four years, the Moree Solar Farm is fully operational, the tracking technology is being used in other projects, and the development has secured a power purchase agreement with one of Australia's leading energy retailers, Origin.

"With the introduction of new financiers to replace the CEFC debt commitment, this project is well and truly established as a high-performing commercial asset that is delivering enduring clean energy benefits."

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth added: "This refinancing reflects the growing maturity of the large-scale solar sector in Australia and the positive investment potential of renewable energy generation assets. At the heart of the CEFC's investment approach is our commitment to secure a positive commercial return on our finance.

Through the repayment of CEFC finance by projects such as the Moree Solar Farm, we can recycle our capital and continue to invest in new projects at the development stage. Equally important is the growing appetite for clean energy projects by private sector investors, increasing the flow of capital into this growing sector."

The CEFC committed $46 million as sole debt financier to the Moree Solar Farm in 2013, enabling the project to proceed to construction on a fully merchant basis. The CEFC investment set a precedent in the Australian market for financing large-scale solar on a fully merchant basis, and was named IJ Global's 2014 Asia Pacific Solar Transaction of the Year. This loan has now been refinanced according to the agreed schedule.

Operating since March 2016, the 280-hectare, 56 MW (AC) project was the first in Australia to use single-axis tracking technology. Its 222,000 solar panels can tilt to face the sun as the earth rotates, enabling it to generate 30 per cent more energy than fixed position panels. It is estimated that the electricity generated will avoid nearly 95,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

The project also received grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. In March 2016, FRV announced it had secured a 14.5-year PPA with Origin Energy Ltd for 100 per cent of its output.