Etrion finances 70MW Chile PV array

Etrion has reached financial close for its 70MW Project Salvador in Chile, leaving the $200m PV array on track to break ground next month in the Atacama Desert.

Salvador – like SunEdison’s 51MW San Andres project underway in Chile – will operate on an entirely merchant basis, selling its electricity directly onto the grid without subsidy.

Like SunEdison’s at San Andres, Etrion will source most of the non-recourse project debt for Salvador from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US government’s development finance institution.

OPIC will provide Etrion – which has tapped US solar group SunPower to build and kit out Salvador – with $140m in project debt which comes with a 19.5-year tenor.

The remaining $60m will be provided by Etrion, Total (SunPower’s majority owner) and Salvador’s original project developer Solventus, based on their initial ownership stakes of 70%, 20% and 10%, respectively.

This autumn Switzerland-based Etrion sold its legacy oil and gas assets to become a solar-dedicated generator, and Salvador – its first PV project in the Americas – will transform the company into a “global solar-power generation platform”, says chief executive Marco Northland.

SunPower will use its Oasis Power Block technology for Salvador, and will stay on in an O&M capacity after the project is commissioned in early 2015.

“This project represents an important milestone for the energy industry, proving that solar can provide wholesale power at prices competitive with conventional generation technologies,” says SunPower president Howard Wenger.