Inverter issues hit NSW solar farms, just as owner seeks buyer offers

Posted by on February 2, 2021 in News

Inverter issues hit NSW solar farms, just as owner seeks buyer offers

Renew Economy
Giles Parkinson
2 February 2021 –

Inverter issues have hit production at the two New South Wales solar farms being offered for sale by the listed solar investor New Energy Solar.

The company announced on Tuesday that the output from the 110MW (DC) Beryl and 57MW Manildra solar farms were 18.3 per cent below its “weather adjusted” expectations for the December quarter, as a result of the inverter problems it says are now “largely” rectified.

“During the quarter, Beryl and Manildra experienced some inverter malfunctions that contributed to underperformance during the period,” the company said in its quarterly report.

“Replacing the failed inverters at Beryl was largely completed during December, while at Manildra new inverter components have been ordered and replacement is expected to occur in the coming weeks.”

It said Beryl also sustained damage from a lightning strike in December, which damaged cables and led to inverters being offline for a few days, although all these issues have since been remediated and plant performance has improved.

It is not the first time issues have emerged at Beryl. The company said in June last year that unidentified “component issues” had affected production. The solar farm had been bought from First Solar and featured Ingeteam inverters.

“Beryl and Manildra also experienced intermittent curtailment directed by AEMO as a result of grid issues across the central-west of New South Wales,” it said.

The timing of the inverter problems is not the best for New Energy Solar, which reluctantly put these and other assets up for sale late last year out of frustration that the market was not properly valuing its solar portfolio, which is mostly based in the US.

New Energy Solar has argued that its two NSW solar farms are high-quality assets, with proven operations and long-term investment-grade offtake contracts with an average tenor of 12 years. Manildra is contracted to EnergyAustralia and Beryl to Kellogg and NSW Metro.

It says the “indicative bid phase” will commence this quarter, and expects the sales process to be completed in the middle of the year. It will use the money raised for security buybacks, capital returns and debt reduction.

It’s not the only solar farm sales process currently underway. FRV has put its eight solar farm portfolio up for tender, according to repeated newspaper stories.

Blackrock is reportedly looking to sell the co-located Hayman and Daydream solar farms in Queensland known as the Gretel portfolio, whileElliott Green Power Australia is also rumoured to be testing the market for its solar farms, which include 98MW Susan River and 75MW Childers solar farms in Queensland, and the 132MW Nevertire solar farm in NSW.

UK Infrastructure investorJohn Laing – which has decided to get out of renewables – has its two Australian solar projects – the 170MW Finley and the 200MW Sunraysia (90 per cent owned) in NSW – also up for sale, although it admits that any formal process won’t begin for at least another year until commissioning is complete and there is greater visibility around the congestion issues in the grid in south-west NSW.