The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is supporting the expansion of the emerging solar generation belt in regional New South Wales, committing $30 million in debt finance to what will be the state’s largest solar farm.

The 150MW (AC) Coleambally Solar Farm is being developed by Neoen Australia.

NSW has the largest electricity demand in Australia, however, it has a relatively low penetration of large-scale solar generation.

During the past 12 months, the CEFC has worked with developer Neoen Australia to accelerate large-scale solar capacity in regional NSW, providing debt finance for four projects that will deliver an additional 260MW (AC) of renewable energy capacity.

“We are pleased to support Neoen’s investments in the construction of new solar generation in New South Wales. As well as driving lower emissions and regional employment, these investments are delivering renewable energy to large population centres,” CEFC Large-Scale solar lead Monique Miller said.

The Coleambally Solar Farm is five kilometres north east of Coleambally, and 70 kilometres south of Griffith. The development is part a growing stable of NSW solar projects developed by Neoen with CEFC finance.

The CEFC has provided a further $150 million in debt finance to Neoen solar farm developments in Dubbo, Griffith and Parkes.

The Griffith and Parkes solar farm projects are now fully built and are undergoing commissioning, exporting increasing amount of renewable electricity into the national electricity grid as commissioning progresses.

Full-scale commercial operation is expected to be achieved before the end of February.

Neoen Australia’s Head of Solar Development Chris Leonard said: “Neoen is pleased to have achieved financial close on the Coleambally Solar Farm, working with CEFC and other financiers NORD/LB and KfW Ipex. We would like to thank them for their commitment to Australia’s clean energy future and Australia’s renewable energy sector.”

The Coleambally Solar Farm will consist of about 565,000 solar panels on 550 hectares. It is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes, while abating about 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 90,000 cars off the road. The project has contracted 70 per cent of its output to EnergyAustralia.

The Coleambally site was chosen after a feasibility assessment confirmed there was an abundant solar resource at the location, which also boasts an existing electricity substation with grid connection capacity. Up to 300 workers are likely to be employed during the construction phase, which is expected to take around nine months.

CEFC investments in large-scale solar are accelerating the development of more than 1.3GW of renewable generation capacity across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and WA, which in turn have contributed to the significant improvements in knowhow, costs and technologies for the Australian solar sector overall.