Media Release: Clayton Utz supports CEFC on landmark investment in Southern Downs Renewable Energy Zone to connect Australia’s largest wind farm

22 Aug 2022
Time to read: 1.5 minutes

Clayton Utz’s Project Development and Finance team has advised the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on a landmark investment that will help to deliver greater reliable power through renewable energy to southern Queensland and Australia’s east coast, powering 700,000 homes, fast-track connection of Australia’s largest wind farm precinct to the National Electricity Market (NEM) and decarbonise Australia’s energy sector.

Sydney Partner Peter Staciwa, Rachel Stanton and Ankita Choudhary were very happy to work with the CEFC on this first of its kind financing. The team advised the CEFC in respect of its $160 million financing commitment which will be used to develop the Southern Downs Renewable Energy Zone, a new renewable energy zone (REZ), and upsize critical transmission and grid infrastructure to connect multiple clean energy assets in Queensland to the NEM.

In this first transaction between the CEFC and Powerlink (a Queensland Government Company), Powerlink will use the finance to construct and operate a 65 kilometre high-voltage transmission line and two new switching stations, which will connect the MacIntyre Wind Precinct, comprising the 923MW MacIntyre Wind Farm and the 103MW Karara Wind Farm, (about 60 km west of the township of Warwick) to the NEM. On completion, the MacIntyre Wind Precinct will be Australia’s largest wind farm and one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, producing 1,026MW from 180 wind turbines. The CEFC finance will unlock an additional 500 MW of new network hosting capacity, adding to the proposed 1000MW of renewable plant capacity to support the Precinct.

Peter said the CEFC’s concessional financing commitment involved unique contracting arrangements, with an innovative investment structure that allows Powerlink to overcome the financing challenge early generators face. This is the first time generator contributions will cover the cost of building critical REZ assets, and will enable the project to be built at scale rather than in stages, keeping initial connection charges down.

As Australia (and the world) ramps up its efforts to achieve net zero emissions, we’re seeing even greater levels of investment in innovative projects supporting the transition to alternative energy sources. We’re pleased to have worked with the CEFC on this milestone investment.

The CEFC invests to catalyse private sector capital in Australia’s clean energy transition. CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said “by backing Australia’s energy pioneers as they develop a REZ as part of a stronger, cleaner grid, we are supporting energy system transformation, which is critical to Australia’s transition to net zero emissions.” Powerlink Chief Executive, Paul Simshauser, has stated that work has begun on the project.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.