Palisade Investment Partners and ESCO Pacific have announced that the AUD$225 million (US$170 million) Ross River Solar Farm has reached financial close.
Construction will now commence on the 148 MW project which is located on a 202-hectare former mango plantation near Townsville. The project will be funded through equity commitments from Palisade’s recently-launched Palisade Renewable Energy Fund and three of Palisade’s institutional clients, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), VicSuper and HESTA.
The Palisade Renewable Energy Fund is open to commitments and has a diversified portfolio comprising Ross River and two operational wind farms. It will continue to invest in renewables projects across the spectrum – from late-stage development through to operational assets – giving investors access to a broad range of opportunities that meet sustainability objectives and generate stable long-term returns.
ESCO obtained development approval for the solar farm from Townsville City Council in June 2016. It has since received approval for a further 470MW of solar farms in Queensland, forming part of its secured development pipeline in excess of 1,500 MW.
Palisade and ESCO signed a long-term PPA for Ross River with EnergyAustralia in February 2017. The partners then completed project development and Palisade arranged the senior debt for the project from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Westpac Banking Corporation. Construction is expected to take 12 months and will be undertaken by Downer Utilities Australia with oversight from CAT Projects as owner’s engineer.
ESCO Pacific Managing Director and founder, Steve Rademaker, said:
“Achieving financial close on the Ross River Solar Farm demonstrates ESCO Pacific’s ability to deliver projects to a bankable standard. We have a significant pipeline of projects and a proven platform to deliver projects to market over the coming years.”
Palisade Managing Director and CEO, Roger Lloyd, said:
“We are excited about this investment which further diversifies Palisade’s renewables portfolio. Palisade’s hands-on approach to taking greenfield projects through the development phase to financial close allows us to shape our investments in a way that minimises risk and maximises returns.”
The CEFC will invest around AUD$20 million (US$15 million) in the Ross River Solar Farm as part of its AUD$100 million (US$75 million) allocation to Palisade’s renewable energy strategy. In addition, the CEFC has provided a AUD$75 million (US$56.5 million) cornerstone commitment to the Palisade Renewable Energy Fund, sending a strong signal to institutional investors and accelerating the delivery of clean energy opportunities.