SunEdison gets finance for 100MW planned PV power plant in Atacama Desert

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Major PV energy provider (PVEP) SunEdison has secured US$212.5 million in project finance for a 100MW PV power plant in the Atacama Desert, Chile.

The step forward for the project underscores Chile's position as a significant solar player, with PV installations finally beginning to materialise there several years after the country was showcased as a potentially large emerging market.

Finance was provided by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to the tune of US$65 million. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US Government's development finance institution provided a US$147.5 million parallel loan, while Rabobank provided a local Chilean Peso VAT facility worth US$45 million.

SunEdison said that the total value of the debt for the project was approximately US$260.5 million.

With the financing secured, the PVEP expects to fast-track the construction, starting the project in August and expected completion sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

The ‘Amanecer Solar CAP’ power plant  is expected to be the largest PV power plant in Latin America and will inject energy directly to the Central Interconnected System (SIC). The project was said to have been originated from an agreement signed in January 2013 with a mining and steel company, CAP.

Pancho Perez, president of SunEdison for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America said, “Photovoltaic solar energy is an ideal source to diversify the current energy mix, reduce energy costs, and contribute to the growing energy demand in a country that has extraordinary conditions for the development of this type of energy. This project is just the first step of SunEdison's long term commitment to the development of the green energy in Chile.”

“As one of OPIC's first renewable energy transactions in Chile, this project will take advantage of the country's solar potential to increase energy access and create local jobs,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC president and CEO. “We look forward to continuing the strong partnership with SunEdison as it supports Chile's effort to diversify its energy sources.”

Only recently, the Chilean Foreign Investment Committee approved US$1.1 billion investment in PV, while IFC also approved a US$49 million loan to Selray Energias to construct an unsubsidised 29.1MW solar plant also in the Atacama desert region of the country.

Over 4GW of solar projects have been approved to be built in Chile, including 17 solar projects totalling 604MW that were approved in early August, 2013. 

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