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16 Jul 2013 05:07:45

30MW PV project gets funding as solar market in Chile gets a big boost



At the end of June, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) approved over $47 million of loan financing for a 30MW PV plant to sell energy to the spot market. Another sign of investor confidence in a fast-growing market.

The project being developed by Selray Energy, which is a joint venture between international developer Saferay and Chilean engineering company Seltec, will be the first large scale PV project for the spot market connected to the northern grid (CDEC-SING). In the northern region there are plenty of possible customers including several utilities as well as multiple mining companies.

The spot market plants in Chile are unusual globally, since very few plants go ahead without PPAs. Moreover, it is relatively unusual for a large multilateral bank such as the IFC to provide the debt financing on a business model which is certainly one of the highest risk for solar. If Chile’s investors and bankers needed a sign of confidence in the Chilean solar opportunity, this is it.

With Saferay and Seltec joining forces, the project again shows that local resources, and a proven track record in PV are essential for getting project financing in Chile. The race is on for international companies to meet the Chilean developers which will give them that competitive edge and without whom it seems difficult to get projects developed.

Yet these plants go ahead amid uncertainty over the future of the Chilean grid. The Chilean government has pledged to increase base capacity to 25 GW from 17 GW by 2020 and whilst $200 million worth of contracts have been awarded already since January 2013 as well an $800 million contract to connect the country’s two main grids, progress seems slow.

Fundación Chile, a Chilean agency encouraging investment and providing services to the renewable energy industry recently completed a modelling exercise looking at the impact of different grid and energy scenarios on the solar market. At present there are several possible scenarios that include integrating the central and northern grids, as well as connecting part of the northern grid with Argentina’s national SADI grid.

Nicola Borregaard Strabucchi, Fundación Chile’s Head of Energy and Climate Change will give an exclusive presentation on the results of this study at PV Insider LATAM to ensure that solar companies understand how future changes will affect them, and how they can future proof their spot-market plants. To ensure that companies plan for the future at PV insider LATAM, Humberto Romero, head of Selray Energía Chile will be joining Fundación Chile and over 25 other speakers to share the secrets of Selray’s success from a technical and financial perspective. With the only developers with plants under construction or in operation in attendance, SunEdison, Kaltemp, Selray, Sky Solar, Soitec, Solar Pack and many more will share the technical secrets of their success.


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