Global solar developer Lightsource bp is reportedly testing buyer interest in five Australian projects, hiring Macquarie Capital to run early-stage market soundings on the deal which could potentially be worth around $1 billion (USD 670 million).
Lightsource bp, an equal joint venture between renewables developer Lightsource and global oil giant bp, is reportedly making moves to sell three of its operational Australian solar farms, and potentially another two under construction, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Citing a pitch prepared by Macquarie Capital, Lightsource bp is looking to sell its 200 MWp Wellington Solar Farm and the 107 MW (DC) West Wyalong Solar Farm, both in New South Wales, as well as the 210 MW (DC) Woolooga solar farm in Queensland.
The company is also considering including its enormous 400 MW (DC) Wellington North project and 90 MW (DC) Wunghnu Solar Farm in the package, potentially making it a five asset deal that the AFR reports could be worth $1 billion.
The sale would afford Lightsource bp capital to realise the megaprojects it has in its Australian pipeline. Based on the company’s total megawatts of solar generation capacity as of August 2022, Lightsource bp is Australia’s largest solar developer and owner.
Macquarie Capital’s “soft soundings” on the package sale have reportedly been designed to inform a two-part auction, slated to kick off in April.
An information memorandum is expected to be made available in the second quarter, with the binding offer phase due mid-year.
Macquarie has approached infrastructure fund managers and Australian utilities to consider purchasing the portfolio of solar assets, the AFR noted.
According to the pitch, Lightsource bp could either sell the assets in full, or potentially retain a minority stake. The company appears also to be open to continuing to run the assets under an operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement, though this will depend on how the potential deal progresses.
Lightsource bp has Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and offtake deals for almost all of the assets included in the potential sale – having previously signed deals with Mars, Engie, bp, and Australian beer brand XXXX.
Lightsource bp has been one of Australia’s most successful solar developers to date, with particularly notable projects in NSW.
On top of the 1 GWp of Australian projects in operation or under construction already, in 2022 Lightsource bp said there was a further 3 GWp planned for Australia and New Zealand.
“We see the acceleration of renewables happening more rapidly than previously anticipated, and expect our operations in Australia to make a significant contribution to meeting Lightsource bp’s global target of 25 GW of solar by 2025,” Lightsource bp’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand Adam Pegg said.
Its 400 MW Wellington North project, currently being constructed next to its 200 MWp Wellington Solar Farm near Dubbo, is expected to be operational by 2024. Likewise, the company expects its 90 MW (DC) Wunghnu Solar Farm in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley to be completed within this timeframe, having had Wunghnu reach financial close last December.
The company has even bigger projects in the pipeline though – which is potentially why it is looking to sell its realised projects. Those include the 840 MW (DC) Sandy Creek solar farm and battery project, located 25 kilometres southwest of Dunedoo in the New South Wales Central West. Lightsource is currently preparing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project.
It is also in the early stages of developing the Goulburn River hybrid project. Located between Wollar and Merriwa in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW, the project will include 588 MWp of solar with a 296 MWp battery system. The company expects to submit the EIS for Goulburn any day now, noting early 2023 on its website.
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