Soitec in $110m CPV bond boost

French concentrating PV group Soitec has sucessfully placed a 1bn rand ($110m) bond for its 44MW Touwsrivier project in South Africa, in a landmark deal for the fledgling CPV sector.

Deloitte & Touche advised on the bonds while Standard Bank of South Africa acted as lead manager, book runner and debt sponsor for the offering, which was deemed investment grade by the ratings agency Moody’s.

The bonds were snapped up by a “diverse pool” of South African institutional investors, pension funds and assets managers, says Bo MacEwan, associate director of corporate finance at Deloitte & Touche.

Ompi Aphane, deputy director of South Africa’s Department of Energy, says the deal “opens an entirely new field of project funding to the solar indjstry in South Africa”.

Soitec will “rapidly deploy” the project in the Western Cape, with Johannesburg-based construction firm Group Five already erecting the first of 1,500 of Soitec’s CPV systems at the site.

Full completion is scheduled for June 2014, by which time Touwsrivier will be the largest CPV plant in the western world.

Grenoble-based Soitec – a semiconductor specialist – has assumed the mantle of the world’s foremost CPV company since buying Concentrix in 2011.

Last week the company announced plans to launch a joint venture with a local partner to provide CPV systems in Saudi Arabia.

Under the right conditions CPV can have a lower levelised cost of energy than traditional PV, requiring more upfront investment but then offering significantly greater conversion efficiencies.

It is, however, more limited geographically than PV, suitable only in areas with very high solar irradiance.