The project will "play a big part in the ongoing transformation of the state's generation mix towards renewables"
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has played a role in the successful financing of a solar farm located in NSW’s New England region.
The firm guided Bank of China, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation as the financiers of the UPC/AC Renewables-owned, 400MWac stage 1 New England Solar Farm. The project financing reached financial close on 11 February.
“The New England Solar Farm is a landmark project in Australia due to its scale, the fact that the financiers banked the deal on a merchant basis and because it is the first of many upcoming UPC/AC Renewables’ projects in a large development pipeline to achieve financial close in Australia,” HSF lead partner Gerard Pike said.
He said that the process of financing a project of this scale without a long-term electricity offtake contract “involved significant innovation and collaboration between UPC/AC, Bank of China, CBA and Westpac, who all navigated a period of difficult market conditions to achieve this milestone.”
The massive solar farm is expected to have the capacity to generate enough energy for approximately 250,000 homes each year.
“This project is in a strong part of the grid in NSW and will play a big part in the ongoing transformation of the state’s generation mix towards renewables,” Pike said.
Pike, a project finance specialist with a particular expertise in energy and infrastructure, led a multidisciplinary team in working on the transaction. He was supported by partner Toby Anderson; senior associates Daniel Ficyk and Caroline Rowe; solicitors Beryl Yan and Stephen Fitzpatrick; and graduate Julia Mollica.
Meanwhile, UPC/AC Renewables was assisted by PwC.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia has long been a client of HSF, and the firm advised the bank on a $3.3bn sale transaction last year. HSF also has a great deal of experience assisting in large-scale project financing deals involving renewable energy – in recent years, the firm guided a transaction involving the largest solar farm in Victoria at the time.