AACo to receive financing through CEFC to solarise cattle facilities

Australian Agricultural Company Ltd (AACo), Australia’s biggest beef cattle producer, will install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across 15 of its sites in Queensland, with financing help from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and National Australia Bank (NAB). The installations will range from 2 kilowatt (kW) to just under 100kW in capacity, and will reduce AACo’s grid energy consumption by around 30% at the sites where they are installed.

The news is the latest yet in a string of events boding well for the future of Australian solar power–particularly on the commercial and utility scales. Last week, it was announced that the first Solar Flagships project–the Nyngan Solar Farm–had finally met its funding target and is now cleared to launch. Then the Sydney Morning Herald, apparently prompted by this news, ran an article highlighting the continuing growth in solar PV installation numbers even after the industry’s incentive-driven ‘boom’ wound itself down.

AACo’s is one of a number of large solar projects to benefit from backing by the CEFC. The Corporation played a key role in bridging the funding gap for Nyngan, and was also pivotal in giving the 56 megawatt (MW) Moree Solar Farm another chance at life after it failed in its Flagships bid.

CEFC CEO Oliver Yates, however, noted that ‘impediments’ still remain in commercial solar adoption, and that AACo’s investment will serve as a ‘demonstration project’. He was optimistic that solar power would continue to grow in attractiveness as an investment into the future, citing the decreasing cost of solar power. “The utility and commercial sector business case continues to improve as the relative cost of solar energy generation falls,” he said in a media release about AACo’s project. He also made reference to the key role that CEFC plays in developing the industry. “The CEFC can catalyse investment and increase capital to fund the market and reduce finance costs of both shorter-term bank funding and longer-term investment.” In all, NAB and the CEFC will put of financing $990k towards AACo’s solar systems, with the former pitching in $500k and the latter providing the balance.

All of the systems will be grid-connected, meaning that AACo will save money on its power bills by supplementing consumption of power from utilities with the power generated by its solar panels on site. The systems will use Trina solar panels and SMA inverters.

© 2013 Solar Choice Pty Ltd 

James Martin II