First Solar, Inc. has received board approval from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government's development finance institution, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, for financing to support construction of the 141MW Luz del Norte solar power plant in Chile's Atacama Desert.
The loans, which are expected to close later this summer, clear the way for First Solar to proceed with construction planning at the site, which is near the city of Copiapo. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The OPIC board approved a loan of up to US$230 million; the IFC board approved a US$60 million loan.
The Luz del Norte project is the first of several projects First Solar has in its regional development pipeline, and will be the company's initial project to start construction in Chile. We recently published that the Environment Agency of Chile (EIS) had approved the construction of a 369 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) park in the northern Antofagasta region.
The Chilean government's National Energy Strategy includes expansion of the country's renewable energy capacity to 20% of its total generated power by 2025. Energy from Luz del Norte will be supplied into the Chilean Central Interconnected System, contributing significantly towards this goal.
Tim Rebhorn, Senior Vice President,Americas for First Solar, stated:
The Latin American region has a growing need for innovative and efficient energy solutions right now. This investment support from OPIC and IFC is instrumental in bringing the project in Chile to life.
Rebhorn said First Solar has been working closely with the Chilean national government, industry, regional authorities and the local community to design, develop and build the Luz del Norte project. He noted that particular effort has been placed on understanding community concerns about environmental impact; national interest in the technology related to connecting the project to the grid; and the broader industry's power requirements, among other important considerations.