3 firms advise on NSW solar farms worth over $230m

The renewable energy projects are the first to close under large-scale Australian green banks’ solar programs

3 firms advise on NSW solar farms worth over $230m

A trio of international giants have advised on the first three projects to reach financial close under large-scale solar projects of two Australian green banks. Herbert Smith Freehills, Baker McKenzie and DLA Piper were all involved in the 55 MW Parkes Solar Farm project, the 30 MW Griffith Solar Farm and the 25 MW Dubbo Solar Farm.

HSF advised Neoen Australia on the construction, operation and financing of the three solar farms, worth in excess of $230m, in New South Wales. It also advised the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on the financing of the projects. Meanwhile, Baker McKenzie also advised the sponsors, while DLA Piper advised the Australian Renewable Energy Agency ARENA.

The three solar farms are the first to reach financial close under the CEFC’s $250m large-scale solar program and the ARENA’s $92m large-scale solar round. Owned and developed by renewable energy developer Neoen, the projects have tapped Bouygues Construction Australia as lead contractor for the construction and long-term operation and maintenance of the farms.

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HSF advised on a number of aspects for each of the projects, including the long-term project finance debt facility, offtake arrangements, construction, long-term maintenance arrangements and grid connection. Power offtake agreements with ENGIE underpin the Griffith Solar Farm and the Parkes Solar Farm, while the Dubbo Solar Farm has been developed and financed on a fully merchant basis HSF said.

The Herbert Smith Freehills’ team was comprised of partners Elizabeth Charlesworth, Andrew Clark and Joel Rennie, executive counsel Alison Dodd, senior associate Tyson Carruthers, solicitors John Tawadrous, Josh Attard, Rhiannon Hough, Yun Yong, Arnica Mullins and Hiroko Ito.

The Baker McKenzie team was led by Paul Curnow, the firm's head of the Asia Pacific Renewable Energy and Clean Technology practice. He was assisted by Sean Rush, John Walker, Kate Jefferson, Kate Phillips, Ilona Millar, Ana Gomiero-Guthrie, Lachlan Tait, David Cooper and Miles Hurst.

Herbert Smith Freehills partner and Asia Pacific renewable energy specialist Toby Anderson said that the renewables sector saw strong activity over the last year. He also predicted the availability of funding to boost deals in the area in the near future.

“The Australian renewables sector has seen significant growth over the past 12 months, and the start of the year in particular has been extremely busy for the firm’s renewables team. We have seen a number of our clients achieve significant project milestones, and we are looking forward to continuing growth for the rest of the year,” Anderson said.

“Solar energy will be a particular focus due to both the CEFC’s and ARENA’s large-scale solar programs which will see hundreds of millions of dollars in funding provided to support the development of a significant number of solar projects,” he added.

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