SunEdison seals Chile plant funding

SunEdison has closed $155m in non-recourse debt financing for construction of the Maria Elena 72.8MW solar PV plant in Chile’s northern Antofagasta Region.

SunEdison will own and operate the facility. It will sell power on a merchant basis into Chile’s Sistema Interconectado del Norte Grande (SING).

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will provide $48.9m in financing; the Inter-American Development Bank $50.3m; Clean Technology Fund $16m and CorpBanca of Chile $39.8m.

CorpBanca will also provide $35m equivalent in Chilean pesos to cover project value-added taxes.

CorpBanca is the first local bank to participate in a senior debt facility for a merchant solar project in Chile.

The plant will be connected to the grid later this year. SunEdison did not say when commercial operation would begin.

"Today marks a new milestone in the energy industry – this power plant demonstrates that photovoltaic solar energy can compete with traditional energy sources and win. It is an international benchmark for the development of solar energy," says Jose Perez, SunEdison president for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

On Thursday, First Wind said it is closing in on a package of loans that would let it proceed with a 141MW(ac) PV project in Chile, in what would be its first project in the country – and the largest solar plant in Latin America.

The boards of the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the IFC have approved loans of $230m and $60m, respectively, for the Luz del Norte project in Chile’s Atacama Desert, First Solar says.

Although the loans are not expected to close until later this summer, the approvals clear the way for First Solar to proceed with on-site construction planning. The money will support construction.