Bright Acre Energy – Solar IPO, 2019 Plans

European solar project developer Wirsol Energy have an Australian arm known as Bright Acre Energy. The company has been working on a $500m IPO of their Aussie solar portfolio, but news is thin on the ground lately. Let’s take a look at what to expect from BAE in 2019.

Bright Acre Energy $500m Australian Solar IPO

Bright Acre Energy Gannawarra Solar Farm
Bright Acre Energy Gannawarra Solar Farm (source: brightacreenergy.com.au)

Bright Acre Energy have ten projects in various stages of completion, situated in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. According to the Australian Financial Review, the projects are set to fully connect to the national power grid by the end of 2019. These five projects will total over 1100MW, which is enough electricity to power 350,000+ houses. The official site names the farms as currently having 397MWp of nameplate capacity, with half of this commercially operational and the other half ‘almost there’. 

Former Australian rugby union player Bill Calcraft was the CEO last year, and along with Gerard Dover the site has them listed as ‘Proposed Management’ – so not sure what this means for 2019 – and there hasn’t been any specific news on their potential IPO. We’ve reached out to the team and will keep you updated if we find out anything about Bright Acre’s plans for the rest of the year. 

Bright Acre Energy are currently responsible for the following projects, as per their website:

  • Hamilton Solar Farm (Collinsville, QLD) (Operational) (69MWp)
  • Whitsunday Solar Farm (Collinsville, QLD) (Operational) (69MWp)
  • Clermont Solar Farm (Clermont, QLD) (Near-term Operational) (89MWp)
  • Springdale Solar Farm (Springdale, NSW) (Pipeline) (120MWp)
  • Bomen Solar Farm (Bomen, NSW) (Pipeline) (120MWp)
  • Hay Solar Farm (Hay, NSW) (Pipeline) (140 MWp)
  • Buronga Energy Station (Buronga, NSW) (Pipeline) (400MWp)
  • Wemen Solar Farm aka Wemen Sun Farm (Wemen, NSW) (Near-term Operational) (110MWp)
  • Gannawarra Energy Storage System (Kerang, VIC) (25MW/50MWh)
  • Gannawarra Solar Farm (Kerang, VIC) (60MWp)

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Wemen Sun Farm construction in 2017 – Wirsol

Wirsol Energy Pty Ltd will commence construction on the 110MW Wemen Sun Farm later this year. Wirsol, an arm of German renewables developer Wircon GmbH, didn’t provide information on who they bought the farm from or for how much (it was previously owned by Overland Sum Farming along with Island Green Power). No word on the two other Mildura solar projects owned by the same companies – the future of the Yatpool Sun Farm and the Karodoc Sun Farm is currently unknown.

Wirsol - Wemen Sun Farm
Wirsol – new owners of Wemen Sun Farm (translation – ‘Everyone can make electricity’ – if my school German doesn’t fail me…)

Wirsol Energy did note that by the end of the year they will have five solar farms under construction in Queensland and Victoria – with a combined capacity of around 400MW. So it wouldn’t be surprising if they’ve done a deal to procure one of Yatpool and Karodoc projects, given that they have already announced three other solar farms in various stages of completion.  

According to the Wirsol website  they will also have the Whitsunday Solar Farm (Collinsville – 69MW), Hamilton Solar Farm (Collinsville – 69MW), and the Gannawarra Solar Farm (Kerang, 60MW) all commencing commercial operations in Q1 2018 – if you add their output to the Wemen Sun Farm that makes approximately 310MW – we’ll see what the fifth farm is soon enough, no doubt! There will be much more to come – according to Wirsol they plan to deploy up to 1GW of solar power by 2020. 

Mark Hogan, MD of Wirsol, was quoted on their website as saying “We are thrilled to announce the successful acquisition and refinancing of this portfolio as it marks our first move into the Australian renewable sector.  Our success in Australia has been driven by the significant experience accrued in the European market and deploying 1 GW of solar to date.  We believe this transaction demonstrates the importance of bringing together industry knowledge and local expertise to successfully develop, construct and finance large-scale renewable projects.  This transaction firmly positions Wirsol as one of Australia’s leading renewable investors.  We will continue building on this success and are actively seeking to acquire further development opportunities to fulfil our internal ambition of deploying 1GWp solar across Australia by 2020.”

Wemen Sun Farm

The project is located at Hatta-Bronvale Road in Wemen, close to the border of Victoria and New South Wales and approximately 110km south east of Mildura. 

According to RenewablesNow, it is a 110MW plant on 770 acres and will ‘give rise to regional value creation’ of over $200m. AussieRenewables are reporting that Powercor Australia have signed PPAs to connect the projects to the state electrical grid, but no word on if that agreement will carry over with the new owners (that information was taken from the Overland Sun Farming site back in March). Overland CE Brett Thomas was quoted in WeeklyTimesNow as saying that the farm’s panels would use tracking to follow the sun from east to west; we’ll undoubtedly see more information about this as the project enters development. Another great development for Australian solar farms

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Australian Renewable Energy Agency Solar Grants – 12 Plants Reach Financial Close in April

Australian Renewable Energy Agency
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) have reached a significant solar milestone with their funding of PV plants in Australia. As of EOM April 2017 all 12 plants currently receiving grant funding from ARENA have reached a “financial close”. A financial close refers to the fact that all plants are fully financed with council and environmental approvals. They also have agreements in place with regards to grid connection, construction, and engineering. Nine of the plants have already begun construction and, when completed, the 12 plants will generate enough renewable energy to power 150,000 homes. All together, the 12 plants will generate 468.8MW of solar energy – and this doesn’t count at least six more plants being developed without any assistance from ARENA.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht noted that the total cost of plant production has decreased by 40% over the last three years. The amount of grant funding required to launch large-scale solar projects has also shrunk dramatically – from $1.60/watt three years ago to just 28c per watt in 2017. In addition to this, there are at least six PV plants in advanced stages of development that have received no funding, an indication that the industry has advanced to a level where it’s financially feasible to develop solar plants even without any government intervention and Australia is well on its way to reaching our 2020 renewable energy target (large-scale renewable energy generation of 33,000 GWh)

The 12 plants received a total of $92m in grants from ARENA – in addition to $1bn provided by private investment.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Funded Solar Plants

The Solar Plants ARENA have funded and their capacity:

  1. QLD – Kidston Solar Park, 50MW
  2. QLD – Longreach Solar Park, 15MW
  3. QLD – Collinsville Solar Power Station, 42MW
  4. QLD – Oakey Solar Farm, 25MW
  5. QLD – Darling Downs Solar Farm, 106.8MW
  6. QLD – Whitsunday Solar Farm, 52.8MW
  7. NSW – White Rock Solar Farm, 20MW
  8. NSW – Dubbo Solar Hub, 22.4MW
  9. NSW – Manildra Solar Farm, 42.4MW
  10. NSW – Parkes Solar Farm, 46MW
  11. NSW – Griffith Solar Farm (Neoen), 26.4MW
  12. WA – Emu Downs Solar Farm, 20.1MW

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