AES approves ‘largest capital raise’ to date for 1.6GW LatAm renewables push

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Headquartered in Santiago de Chile (pictured), AES Gener said it currently has over US$341m of cash in hand to deal with COVID-19 uncertainty. Image credit: Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr

Chilean developer AES Gener is to support plans for a consequential renewables build-out with a new capital raise, reportedly the largest it has seen in its history.

In recent days, an extraordinary meeting of shareholders of the Santiago-based firm voted to approve the proposed raising of US$500 million to back the installation of 1.6GW of solar and wind in Chile and Colombia.

At overall investments of US$1.8 billion, funding for the renewables build-out plans will come via the US$500 million capital increase but also cash and third-party partnerships. A US$335 million slice of the US$500 million capital raise will be supplied by top shareholder AES Corporation.

For AES Gener, the two-country push is part of a broader plan to grow in the renewables space. As CEO Ricardo Manuel Falú noted in a statement, to goal is to ensure that green energy accounts for 51% of AES Gener’s installed portfolio and 66% of its EBITDA by 2024.

In a separate COVID-19 update it published on Monday, AES Gener said it remains in a “robust liquidity position”, with over US$341 million in cash on hand. Currency devaluation – which analysts have said could hit Latin American renewables in particular – is being offset via a “conservative” hedging strategy, the firm added.

“We’re in the midst of great uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only in the countries where we’re active but across the globe … Our firm, which is not immune to the impacts, has got a resilient commercial, operational and financial strategy”—Ricardo Manuel Falú, CEO of AES Gener

Targeting of Chile, Colombia to bring PV to LatAm hotspots

The two targets of AES Gener’s 1.6GW roadmap, Chile and Colombia are both renewable markets where the firm is already active. In Chile, the group styles itself as the developer with the most solar under construction, following the ground-breaking of 80MW Andes Solar II.

In its COVID-19 update, AES Gener said the solar project – one of two covered by a 14-year, 440GWh-a-year PPA with Google – is “98% complete”. The project now lies at the “final stages of testing and commissioning”, the firm added.

In his statement, CEO Falú pointed at the current backdrop of “great uncertainty” across the globe, with the COVID-19 pandemic sending shockwaves through global economies – renewables included – as confirmed virus cases approach the 2.5 million mark worldwide.

“More than ever, all our actions today are guided by our misión and values,” the executive said. “We’ve got an exceptional team, who is carrying out heroic work to deliver the energy that Chile, Argentina and Colombia need.”

The firm’s choice of Colombia – a country where it built a 21MW PV plant for oil group Ecopetrol – looks set to add more solar to one of Latin America’s emerging markets. Official stats released in recent weeks record a 9.47GW solar pipeline nationwide as of 31 March 2020.

A feature examining the opportunities and risks of Colombian PV was part of PV Tech Power's Volume 19, which you can subscribe to here

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media's Energy Storage Latin America, to be held on 23-24 June 2020.

PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

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