LatAm round-up: AES’ 1.6GW push, Biggest PV bond, Voltalia in Brazil

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AES's plans to heavily invest in Colombian renewables follow its development of a 21MW plant for oil group Ecopetrol. Image credit: Justin Sovich / Flickr

Chile and Colombia are to witness major additions of solar and wind projects under plans by AES Gener, who has spent nearly two years boosting its foothold in both countries.

Late last week, the developer said it will invest funds of US$1.8 billion to deploy a 1.6GW green energy pipeline across the two Latin American markets. The firm will finance the push with a mix of cash, third-party partnerships and a yet-to-be-approved US$500 million capital increase.

For AES – a group based in Chilean capital Santiago – the solar and wind buildout in Chile and Colombia is part of a strategic shift it undertook in May 2018. The firm claims to have since signed a combined 8.1TWh-a-year in green energy contracts across both countries.

The renewable push emerges in a week when AES posted an EBITDA of US$839 million for 2019, which it said marks a “slight decline” from its 2018 records. By 2024, the firm wants to ensure green energy projects represent 51% of its installed capacity and 66% of its EBITDA figure.

AES claims to be the developer with the most solar under construction in Chile, following its ground-breaking of 80MW Andes Solar II. Over in Colombia, the firm secured 1.300GWh in wind contracts at the country’s first renewable tender and built a 21MW PV plant for oil group Ecopetrol.

LatAm witnesses solar bond milestone as Atlas raises for two plants

Capital is set to flow to two Chilean solar projects under what is being described as Latin America’s largest PV-focused US private-placed (USPP) green bond to date.

On Tuesday this week, Atlas Renewable Energy issued a US$253 million green bond, with plans to channel the proceeds towards a 314MWp solar duo in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The bond, ranked as BBB- by Fitch Rating, was placed by lead agent DNB Markets.

The two plants in question include 70MWp Javiera, an up-and-running PV asset Actis has owned in the Antofagasta region since it bought a stake in 2017. The stake seller – mining group Antofagasta Minerals – continues to use the PV plant to supply a copper mine under a PPA.

The new green bond raise will also support Atlas' 244MWp Sol del Desierto. The Atacama project, currently under construction, is contracted to provide an annual 550GWh of PV power to PPA offtaker Engie Energia for 15 years. Supply is set to commence in early 2022.

For Atlas, a Latin America-focused unit of private equity house Actis, the efforts to line up finance in Chile are mirrored across its other key markets. In recent years, the firm has enlisted banks to sponsor a 129.5MW PV project in Mexico and switched on various plants in Brazil.

Resin producer to buy PV power from Voltalia’s Brazilian auction winners

Voltalia has enlisted a Brazilian petrochemical giant to buy power from two solar plants it will soon start to build in the country’s northeast, a PV project that is the firm’s largest to date worldwide.

Thermoplastic resin producer Braskem will be acquiring electricity from Voltalia’s Solar Serra do Mel (SSM) 1&2 duo of 270MW in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the French renewable developer said in a statement this week.

The two projects are due to start construction in H2 2020, with a view to reach the commissioning stage in H1 2022. The 20-year PPA with Braskem aside, the installations are contracted to supply PV power to Copel, a utility from Brazil’s Para state.

Voltalia’s SSM cluster was among the solar winners of Brazil’s A-6 auction last year. A U-turn by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro meant PV projects were allowed to take part in the A-6 tender for the first time, tabling a whopping 29.7GW in bids and later winning 530MW in actual contracts.

For Voltalia, the preparations to break ground on its largest solar project worldwide in Brazil come as the firm continues with PV work across other countries, including Portugal, Egypt, Kenya and its home market of France.

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 in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

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