Total and Etrion secure financing for world’s largest merchant solar power plant in Chile

12 December 2013 (Last Updated December 12th, 2013 18:30)

Total, Etrion and SunPower have secured financing for the construction of the 70MWp Salvador project in the Atacama region of Chile.

Total, Etrion and SunPower have secured financing for the construction of the 70MWp Salvador project in the Atacama region of Chile.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will finance 70% of the approximately $200m project cost through long-term, non-recourse project debt, while Etrion, Total and initial project developer, Solventus, possessing 70%, 20% and 10%, respectively, will fund the remaining 30% equity portion.

Etrion will fund its equity commitment through a $42m credit facility from its major shareholder, the Lundin family, and following initial payback, its ownership in the project will decrease from 70% to 50.01% and divest to zero after 20 years of operations.

"The plant will generate around 200GWh of solar electricity annually, enough to supply electricity to around 80,000 households in Chile."

PV Salvador, the project special purpose vehicle will use the loan proceeds to finance the development, construction, commissioning and operation of the solar PV power plant, which is claimed to be the world's largest merchant solar power plant.

Spanning across 133ha leased from the Chilean Government, the power plant will operate entirely on a merchant basis, selling its output directly onto the Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC) electricity network without subsidy and with the ability to secure future power purchase agreements.

To be connected to the SIC grid through the Codelco power infrastructure, the plant will generate around 200GWh of solar electricity annually, enough to supply electricity to around 80,000 households in Chile.

SunPower, owned 66% by Total, is likely to begin construction on the project in January 2014 and commission in early 2015 with a majority of the installation set to start operations during 2014.

In addition to providing its Oasis Power Block technology, SunPower will also be responsible for operation and maintenance of the project under a long-term, fixed-price agreement.

Etrion CEO Marco Northland said the company has partnered with Total, SunPower and Solventus on the solar project that takes its business model beyond government subsidies.

Northland said: "This is Etrion's first project to be financed and under construction in the Americas, and we look forward to working with the same partners on future projects.

"Project Salvador almost doubles our installed capacity and is expected to grow our cash flow by approximately 50%, transforming Etrion into a global solar power generation platform."

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