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A 13-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for Australia’s largest solar project, the Ross River Solar Farm, has been reached between Energy Australia and the partnership of ESCO Pacific and investor, Palisade Investment Partners (Palisade), which recently purchased 50 per cent of the project.

The Ross River Solar Farm, located near Townsville is being developed by ESCO Pacific. The 142MW utility‐scale energy project will generate clean and renewable electricity.

The approximately $225 million project is located on a disused mango plantation, which was selected because of the high solar irradiance in the region, and its average 320 days of sunshine annually.

The site offers proximity to a grid connection point as well as suitable flat land that is free from environmental constraints.

Palisade, a specialist independent infrastructure manager, will finance the project through funds it manages including its recently‐launched Palisade Renewable Energy Fund (PREF).

PREF has a mandate to invest in Australian‐based renewable energy assets, building out a portfolio of wind and solar assets.

The project’s PPA forms part of EnergyAustralia’s recently‐announced initiative to procure approximately 500MW of power from new wind and solar energy projects across eastern Australia.

EnergyAustralia Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, said, “Customers rightly expect access to reliable, affordable and cleaner supplies of energy and as an owner of big coal‐fired power plants EnergyAustralia has a responsibility to lead change.

“That’s why we’re proud to support development of the Ross River Solar Farm as a great example of the projects that will underpin the future of energy supply in Australia.”

Ms Tanna said negotiations between EnergyAustralia and proponents of other solar and wind projects across eastern Australia were well advanced.

EnergyAustralia’s existing renewable energy programs include the rights to more than 450MW of electricity from wind farms in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, representing enough power to meet the electricity needs of 300,000 average homes for a year.

ESCO Pacific secured development approval for the solar farm from Townsville City Council in June 2016. Construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2017, and will take approximately 12 months.

ESCO Pacific’s Managing Director, Steve Rademaker, said, “We are delighted to be working with our new equity investor Palisade to drive the development of the Ross River Solar Farm forward.

“Palisade’s experience in the funding of renewable energy assets will be invaluable as we progress with the project.”

In December 2016 ESCO Pacific announced it had received planning consent for three new solar farms in Queensland, with a total installed capacity of 320MW.

“We are on track to achieve our 1GW development goal by 2020,” Mr Rademaker said.

Palisade CEO, Roger Lloyd, said, “Ross River Solar Farm is an excellent opportunity to develop a standout project in northern Queensland. This delivers on our strategy to diversify our current renewables portfolio of existing wind assets.”

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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