APAC: Risen Energy seeks partners for Australian expansion

16 October 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

Risen Energy is eyeing a 2GW global renewable project pipeline by the end of 2019 as part of the Chinese solar developer’s overseas investment push.

It is also mulling investments in energy storage projects and other renewables, targeting Australia and countries along the Belt and Road, a spokesperson told Inframation.

“We are looking at the whole of Australia for potential ready-to-build projects opportunities,” he said. “We will also like projects seeking financing plus EPC partners as well as co-developers.”

The company, based in Ningbo city in the southeastern province of Zhejiang, last week announced an acquisition of the 100MW Merredin Solar Project in Western Australia from local developer Stellata Energy. It plans to complete the purchase, achieve financial close and start construction by end-2018 with a scheduled commissioning date in late 2019.

In June 2017, Perth-based Stellata teamed up with UK alternative asset manager Ingenious to win approval for the project, located in the central Wheatbelt. It will generate enough power for 42,000 local households, and link into the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

Construction was previously due to start in mid-2018, while Stellata weighed whether to pursue a PPA or turn to the merchant market.

The spokesperson did not say whether the project had secured a PPA. He noted that obtaining one is “not always necessary” for renewable project financing in Australia, and that selling power to the merchant market was also a “viable option”.

“We will make a decision based on our calculations as to which contract would yield greater returns for the project,” he added.

Typically, the Chinese firm would aim for a debt to equity split of 70%-80%:30%-20%, the spokesperson said, adding that it expected to secure international finance for any greenfield projects.

In mid-June, Risen Energy secured a USD 31m financing package – arranged by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – for a 40MW solar project in Kazakhstan. Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and Green Climate Fund are also backing the loan.

The spokesperson said the company remained cautious on investing in the Americas and Middle East, which it perceived as higher risk. Acknowledging that Chinese peers such as Jinko are bidding for projects in the Middle East, the spokesperson described the region as an “all or nothing” market.

Risen Energy entered Australia when it acquired the 121MW Yarranlea Solar Farm in February. Construction of the project, located in Queensland, started last month and is expected to complete by the end of March. Within five years, the developer plans to reach a combined 1GW of installed capacity in the states of Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales.

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