After entering voluntary administration last week, potential buyers are circling Canberra’s Mugga Lane Solar Park.
The 52-hectare project along the Monaro Highway in Hume was completed in 2017 and feeds approximately 24,500 MWh into the ACT’s electricity network, enough energy to power around 3000 households.
Late last week, Scott Langdon and David Osborne of KordaMentha were appointed voluntary administrators “due to the recent external effects on the financial arrangements of Mugga Lane Solar Park”.
It is understood the owners were facing difficulties trying to refinance the solar farm and decided it was easier to go into administration.
The sales process began immediately, with Mr Langdon expecting a “high level of international interest … due to the unique nature of the asset”.
In 2013, Chinese firm Zhenfa won the ACT Government contract to supply solar power from the site before the Australian arm of Zhenfa was bought out by the management firm Maoneng Group.
The solar farm was designed and built by UGL, regarded as one of the best solar PV construction companies in Australia.
The project was delivered on budget and began exporting power to the Gilmore Substation (on Isabella Drive) via underground cables six weeks earlier than planned.
The facility is expected to save around 480,000 tons of CO2 gas emissions over its 25-year life cycle.
The news comes a week after the Maoneng Group announced plans to “build Australia’s largest renewable energy hub” in Merriwa, regional NSW. This would include a 550 MWh solar farm and a battery with a power output of up to 400 MW and four hours of storage.
Maoneng said these plans remain unaffected, noting that Mugga Lane Solar Park is a group subsidiary asset operating under a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ (SPV) structure.
An SPV, also known as a bankruptcy-remote entity, is a separate subsidiary created by a parent company to isolate financial risk. Its legal status as a separate company makes its obligations secure even if the parent company goes bankrupt.
“The appointment of KordaMentha, the voluntary administrators, only relates to Mugga Lane Solar Park and does not affect other group operations or any related entities,” a Maoneng spokesperson said.
According to KordaMentha, there have already been “many approaches” from buyers. The administrators will now enter a formal process and call for bids.
Mr Langdon said Mugga Lane Solar Park would continue to operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis and there will be no disruption to operations or any stakeholders.
“The voluntary administrators will work collaboratively with the director to run an international sale process and maximise competitive tension and the financial outcomes for all stakeholders and creditors,” he said.
“We encourage anyone interested in purchasing the Mugga Lane Solar Park to contact our office immediately.”