IFC invests in Chinese thin-film PV start-up ENN Solar

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In its second major play in the solar manufacturing sector this year, International Finance Corp. has put together a loan and investment package in ENN Solar Energy, a thin-film photovoltaic start-up that is part of China’s XinAo Group. The potential total value of the deal is $136 million.

“IFC’s financing package will include a $45 million loan for its own account, additional loans syndicated from commercial banks and other lenders of up to $76 million, and the purchase of an IFC stake in ENN Solar for up to $15 million,” according to the World Bank Group member company.

The other solar sector investment was announced in late July, when IFC said it would make a $50 million equity investment and $25 million loan in Nitol Solar, a Russian chemical company ramping a southern Siberian polysilicon factory slated to have a 3700-ton capacity.

ENN Solar, which was founded in November 2007, will use Applied Materials’ SunFab turnkey amorphous-silicon TFPV production technology (with an optional tandem-junction upgrade) for fabricating 5.7 m2 glass modules.

Equipment installation on the company’s initial 60-MW annual capacity line is underway, with first commercial production scheduled for the second-quarter 2009. ENN Solar has said it plans to ramp to 500 MW of manufacturing capacity by 2011.

“IFC’s financing will help us in this important new venture,” said Wang Yusuo, XinAo group chairman. “In the midst of the global financial crisis, this support demonstrates a vote of confidence for our group’s strategy.”

“IFC plays an important role in driving down global prices of solar energy to levels where the sun as a source of energy can compete with traditional fuels,” noted Rashad Kaldany, IFC VP for infrastructure. “The ENN Solar Energy project will help to reduce the costs of solar photovoltaic modules and reflects our commitment to the development of renewable energy sources.”

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