RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedowns

Australian solar contracting company RCR Tomlinson has taken a $57m write down on the Daydream solar farm and the Hayman solar farm, which are owned by Edify Energy and to be installed in North Queensland.

RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedown

We reported earlieir this year on the Hayman and Daydream solar farms and how First Solar will be handling the installation for Edify – at that time everything looked rosy but it appears that a couple of major factors have led to cost and time delays. Edify have cited “external” delays, bad weather, and local issues like poor ground quality.  Also being blamed are the increasingly stricter requirements being imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator which are affecting solar farms Australia-wide. 

RCR Tomlinison Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland.
RCR Tomlinson -Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland. (source: thewest.com.au)

As of last year, RCR have over half a Gigawatt of large-scale solar projects in their order book and over a Gigawatt currently being developed or progressed under early contractor involvement processes, according RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish (who has since left RCR). As a result of the writedown RCR are now attempting to raise $100m from investors and have had to offer a significant discount on RCR shares on a one-for-1.65 basis at $1 each. This represents a ~65% discount on the stock’s last trade price ($2.80).

According to RenewEconomy, Tomlinson has written down $57 million on the $315 million contract values for both the 150MW Daydream and the 50MW Hayman solar farms owned by Edify Energy. They’re both located in North Queensland and both nearing completion.

A statement to shareholders noted that: 

“These project-specific issues required the Company to continuously revise its execution methodologies to mitigate delays, leading to increases in subcontractor costs (both people and plant) and logistics cost overruns.

“As a result of these cost overruns that arose over the life of the Project, RCR has realised cumulative write- downs of $57 million from the tendered margin on the Project.”

Some bad news for solar farms in Australia but we have no doubt that these projects will end up completed and can start making their investments back. We’ll be watching closely how the AEMO’s ongoing changes to legislation affects the many other solar farms currently in various stages of completion/operation. 

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Darling Downs Solar Update | Jobs, Farms & More

Darling Downs solar is helping the area by providing jobs to locals and kickstarting the economy – with one council already approving $6b worth of wind and solar projects. There’s now a ‘buzz’ around the Darling Downs and renewable energy – let’s take a look at what they have in the pipeline!

Darling Downs Solar 

Darling Downs Solar Farm
Darling Downs Solar Farm (source: Origin Energy)

“We’ve got $1.2 billion of that under construction now, and that’s the exciting thing, this isn’t just about approvals, this is about action to deliver renewable energies to this region,” Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said in comments to the ABC

“And we know there are another three [solar farms] in the pipeline.”

In Warwick, the 154,000 megawatt-hour generating UQ / Warwick Solar Farm is to be installed on ‘good agricultural land’ has had to wage a battle against NIMBY detractors. Mayor Tracy Dobie defended her decision (she had the deciding vote to allow the farm DA):

“This region is about growth and development and we can sit here and go poor slowly or we can progress our region and the more development we can get in our region the more jobs,” Ms Dobie said.

“The more progress we can make, the better off we are.”

Mayor Dobie continued to discuss the project and what she sees the future of renewable energy in the Darling Downs as looking like:

“This is a turning point in our region to show we are moving forward, that we are looking to the future, and there is nothing more evident than that than renewable energy.

“There’s a buzz about the Darling Downs, this is a great place to be and great time to be here.”

Toowoomba Solar

There’s been an amazing amount of renewable energy movement in Toowoomba – with the billion dollar project at Bulli Creek approved by the Tooowoomba Council. This will be built by Solar Choice over a 10 year staggered period. 

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio spoke about the concerns some residents may have and why he’s happy to continue approving solar farms:

“I guess we have to be a bit cautious of the type of land we put it on, but in saying that, the land is restorable, its not going to be destroyed in any mining effort or anything like that, and in 20, 30, 40 years’ time that land will be back to full production.”

Have a look at the short video below from ABC Landline which was part of an article about using ‘good farmland’ for solar farms. 

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Susan River Solar Farm Construction Commences

The up-to 100MW and $175m Susan River Solar Farm located between Hervey Bay and Maryborough in Queensland is commencing construction this month after being granted DA in 2016.

Susan River Solar Farm

Susan River Solar Farm
Susan River Solar Farm Mockup (source: http://susanriversolarfarm.com.au/)

The Susan River Solar Farm was granted DA (development approval) by the Fraser Coast Regional Council in December 2016 and is now commencing its construction, with roadworks already underway to ensure the infrastructure is set up correctly before building commences. The project is being developed by one of Australia’s biggest renewable energy developers – ESCO Pacific Pty Ltd. They currently have nine solar farms in various stages of completion – with three under construction (The Ross River Solar Farm, Childers Solar Farm, and Susan River Solar Farms) and six with planning secured. These six are in Rollingstone, Dino, Horsham, Koberinga, Moura, and Finley.

With regards to solar employment at the Susan River Solar Farm, Esco chief executive Steve Rademaker said the project will create up to 300 jobs during its inception and five to ten full-time jobs after the plant’s construction is complete. He went on to explain why the Fraser Coast location was ideal for their solar farm:

“Choosing a location came down to the suitable size identification and proximity to the electrical grid, among other factors,” Mr Rademaker said.

“The Fraser Coast ticked all these boxes. It’s a good location to build a project like this.”

According to the Fraser Coast Chronicle, the project will occupy 176 hectares and will involve the installation of 350,000 PV solar panels. 

Fraser Coast infrastructure councillor Denis Chapman called it a “jewel in the crown” of the Fraser Coast. 

The project doesn’t have a PPA (Purchase Power Agreement) signed yet, which means the farm will sell its output on the spot market once launched (unless they sign one first!).

The utility scale renewable energy project is expected to finish completion next year. 

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Beryl Solar Farm Sold To New Energy Solar

We’ve written about the Beryl Solar Farm reaching a financial close back in May – now the 87MW (108MW according to the AFR) project has a new owner and is continuing construction. 

Beryl Solar Farm Sold To New Energy Solar

Beryl Solar Farm Sold to New Energy Solar
Beryl Solar Farm Sold to New Energy Solar (source: FirstSolar.com.au)

According to PV Magazine, the farm has been purchased by New Energy Solar – who also bought the 50MW Manildra Solar Farm for $113m last month. Both farms were previously owned by First Solar and the Beryl farm will be using their 420W large-format Series 6 thin film PV modules. Beryl also comes with a 15 year PPA with Transport for NSW – who will purchase 134,000 MWh from Beryl Solar Farm each year – using the power for the Sydney Metro Northwest railway. This long PPA with a AAA rated customer (i.e. the government) makes the farm a great buy in its current shape.

The EPC project was estimated at $150m according to Reuters, but it’s now estimated at $187m. Downer Utilities started work on the project in May and hope to have it finished in mid 2019. The farm will produce enough energy to power 25,000 households and doesn’t require any water for its electricity generation.

New Energy Solar said the cost of the farm won’t be announced but it was pegged to a target for five-year annual average gross yield of 8.2%, in comparison with yield on its existing portfolio of about 6.8% p.a, so by those metrics it looks like a canny purchase. 

New Energy Solar’s CEO, John Martin, discussed how the extra-long 15 year PPA helped get the sale of this project over the line:

“Beryl, New’s second investment in Australia, will further enhance the scale and contracted cashflows of our Australian portfolio,” said Martin. “Following the Manildra acquisition last month, we are delighted to be consolidating our relationship with First Solar through this second sizeable transaction in the Australian market.”

Martin continued to say that ~69% of the energy provided by the Beryl project will go to Transport for NSW – with the rest slated to package up with a 20MWh battery and sold to a corporate customer as commercial solar

To learn more about the project from the First Solar website please click here

If you’re interested in solar employment and working at the Beryl Solar Farm, please click here to visit the Downer Group’s careers website.

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Aurora Power Plant – thermal power plant in SA

The $650m Aurora Power Plant in South Australia is under threat as the US company Solar Reserve which will be responsible for building it haven’t raised the required funds. The solar thermal power plant was to generate 150MW of power and seemed in safe hands with Solar Reserve, who have previously constructed the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.

Aurora Power Plant – thermal power plant in SA

We’ve written about the Aurora solar thermal power plant before – they were able to receive DA in January this year and it appeared that everything was going well – but there appears to be a bit of trouble getting the final amount of funding over the line.

“Project funding is a lengthy process and we’ve made great progress having identified the necessary funding sources from commercial lenders and equity providers,” a spokesperson from Solar Reserve told 9NEWS.

At the same time, 9NEWS chased down energy minister Dan Van Holst Pellkaan for a statement – who subsequently advised that as far as the government is concerned, everything is copacetic: “What they’ve said is that as of yesterday, the project is still on track. They’ve certainly made it clear that they’re still seeking finance,” Mr Van Holst Pellkaan said.

SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan - Aurora Power Plant - thermal power plant in SA (source: https://www.danvhp.com.au/ )
SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan – Aurora Power Plant (source: https://www.danvhp.com.au/)

The project already has a 20 year PPA signed and a $110m loan from the federal government (contingent on them raising the other ~$540m) so it’s got most of the pieces of the puzzle in place. 9NEWS have reported that as of last month 60% of the necessary funds have been raised, but they’re still looking for someone to come on board and stump up a significant amount of cash (~$250m) so that the project can receive its loan from the federal government in addition to the other $540m and get this project off the ground.

Fingers crossed that we don’t see any significant delay and the world’s biggest single-tower solar thermal power plant is finished quickly!

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Metz Solar Farm sold to Clenergy

New South Wales based 120MW PV solar farm Metz Solar Farm, previously owned by a consortium of buyers, has been sold by Pinsent Masons to Clenergy, a major renewable company from China.

Metz Solar Farm

Metz Solar Farm
Metz Solar Farm (source: metzsolarfarm.com.au)

The consortium, which included Infinergey and other unnamed investors (we wrote about the Metz farm in August last year), used Pinsent Masons to advise all aspects of the sale, which was the group’s first major project in Australia. Financial specifics are confidential – we reported last year the farm was bought for around $130m so it’d be interesting to see what it was worth to a buyer right now – unfortunately we’ll probably never know. Keep in mind it hasn’t even started construction yet – that will be around Spring of this year – the solar farm is expected to reach completion early 2019. 

The Armidale-based farm was 100MW when we looked at it last year, but with the application of Clenergy’s push-pull centralized single-axis tracking architecture, it’s now able to generate 120MW. 

Infinergy, who are more known for wind power according to PV Magazine, have put themselves “on the map” with this project – they are now looking to get development and grid connection approvals for 300MW by the end of the year, with a focus on utility scale solar in NSW and Victoria. 

Pinsent Masons partner Ewan Robertson, who, along with associate Lucy Carter, advised on the sale of the project, was bullish about the state of large-scale renewables in Australia: 

“The sale of the Metz solar farm is significant as it not only marks the sellers’ first project sale in the Australian market, it also represents the buyers’ first acquisition in Australia. Further, the speed at which the sale was initiated and completed is a ringing endorsement of the current appetite for renewable energy in Australia,” Robertson said.

“We are delighted to have achieved the successful development and the subsequent sale of Metz Solar Farm, all within a timeframe of 18 months,” said Infinergy CEO Esbjorn Wilmar in a statement.

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