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X-ELIO’s largest Australian solar farm reaches financial close

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Energy Global,

Global renewable energy producer X-ELIO has announced it has reached financial close for its Blue Grass Solar Farm in Queensland ahead of full commercial operations expected in 1Q22, with backing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), ING, and SMBC.

The successful financial close follows a number of significant milestones for the Blue Grass project, including a landmark virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Salesforce – its first renewable energy offtake agreement in Australia – and the commencement of construction of the 200 MW utility scale farm in October 2020.

X-ELIO also partnered with Queensland’s transmission network provider Powerlink to deliver new grid connection assets for the project, and appoint-ed Gransolar as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

The 200 MW Blue Grass Solar Farm, located 14 km west of Chinchilla in Queensland, is expected to offset approximately 320 000 tpy of CO2 emissions, in support of the Queensland Government’s commitment to generating 50% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2030.

The Blue Grass Solar Farm project represents the opening phase of X-ELIO’s long-term interest in Australia’s energy transition where it plans to leverage its 17 years’ experience as a global leader in the development, construction and operation of solar PV projects, having built 2.6 GW solar PV plants across more than 10 markets globally.

Belinda Fan, X-ELIO's Country Manager in Australia, said: “We’re thrilled to have achieved financial close for the Blue Grass Solar Farm – our largest solar project in Australia and one that strengthens our position in the domestic renewables market where we continue to pursue new growth opportunities. This includes more than 600 MW of projects in our development pipe-line which is growing exponentially each year. X-ELIO is a global business with a local mindset, and we are committed to enhancing economic and social outcomes in the local communities and regions where we operate”. CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “This latest investment commitment demonstrates that CEFC expertise and capital have a critical role to play in the ongoing evolution of Australia’s renewable energy sector. Blue Grass Solar Farm will feature the latest technology that this innovative sector can deliver, including high efficiency bifacial panel technology, making it a solar farm for the 21st century.”

Sieuwert de Zwaan, Head of Energy for ING Australia, said: “We are de-lighted to support X-ELIO on their first investment in Australia, which further reinforces our institutions’ global relationship. ING has a strong commitment to financing the Australian energy sector and to helping our clients globally in realising their growth ambitions in clean energy generation. The transaction contributes towards ING’s ambition to make a positive impact and to steering our loan book towards meeting the net-zero climate goals.”

Jeremy Hasnip, Head of Power & Renewables and Head of Energy Transition for SMBC Asia said: “It is with great delight to support X-ELIO on financing their largest solar project in Australia. Blue Grass will be a major addition to the Queensland grid when it starts generating early this year. As one of the largest financiers of renewable energy projects globally, SMBC has set itself ambitious targets for sustainable and green financing by 2030. Financing the Blue Grass project is another important and meaningful step towards achieving these goals and towards a more sustainable future.”

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