PV News Brief 18 -25 August 2014

SunEdison closes $160m fund

The lease pass-through fund represents a unique structure that will provide the...

Companies mentioned:SunEdison, NORD/LB, Tata Power Solar, ACME Solar, D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C. (DESRI), Bright Plain Renewable Energy, American Capital Energy, American Solar Direct (ASD), ReneSola, Welspun Energy, Sol Systems, National Cooperative Bank, Strata Solar

PV News Brief 18 -25 August 2014

SunEdison closes $160m fund 

SunEdison has closed a $160m fund for distributed generation projects in the United States with Barclays and Citi.The fundraising illustrates the growing appetite for tax efficient investment structures geard for the US solar sector.

The lease pass-through fund represents a unique structure that will provide the tax equity for 40 US projects, according to a press release.  The portfolio includes a mix of ground-mounted, rooftop and canopy photovoltaic systems with an average size of 1.1 megawatts per project.

"We are excited to complete this new fund with Citi and Barclays," said Ryan Bennett, vice president of project finance, North America at SunEdison.

"SunEdison is pioneering new financing structures and cutting-edge solar offerings with top tier partners.  This deal reflects the power of these strong relationships and our commitment to press deeper into new structures that will further enable our leadership in the U.S. distributed generation segment.  We value and appreciate the relationships we have built with Citi and Barclays and look forward to continuing to grow with them," said Bennett.

At the end of July, SunEdison announced that it had reached financial close with Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (NORD/LB) for an 18 megawatt (MW) DC solar power plant in Ontario. The project was set to start construction in July and be completed by the end of 2014, at which time it will be sold to Firelight Infrastructure Partners. 

The facility is expected to generate approximately 20 gigawatt hours of clean energy in the first year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of over 1800 homes, all of which will be fed directly into the energy grid.

In other SunEdison news, it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that DuPont had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the company and its affiliate NVT LLC, alleging the solar technology company is infringing on DuPont's patented tellurium paste technology.

At the time of the WSJ report, a representative for SunEdison said the company had no comment.

DESRI, Bright Plain acquire Nevada solar project

D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C. (DESRI) and Bright Plain Renewable Energy (BPRE) have acquired the Searchlight solar project located approximately 50 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 24-megawatt (DC) project was originally developed by American Capital Energy and was acquired by an affiliate of DESRI in partnership with BPRE.

Signal Energy will serve as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the project, and will also provide operations and maintenance services to the facilities once they are operational.

The project is expected to produce more than 45,000 MWhs of clean energy per year for customers of NV Energy, a utility acquired by Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican unit in December 2013. KeyBank N.A. provided construction and term financing to the project.

"The Searchlight project is a big step forward in transforming Nevada’s abundant natural solar resources into a clean and reliable source of energy,” said Bryan Martin, managing director and head of U.S. growth and buyout private equity at the D. E. Shaw group. “DESRI has successfully completed solar projects in several other states, and we are looking forward to providing solar energy to the residents of southern Nevada."

“Signal Energy is proud to provide its utility-scale, solar EPC expertise to DESRI and BPRE to bring the Searchlight solar project to market,” said Ben Fischer, CEO of Signal Energy. “There is great opportunity in the solar industry over the next few decades and partnerships like this help build a clean energy future for North America.”

Tata Power Solar sees 60% increase in module manufacturing

Tata Power Solar has won one of India’s largest DCR orders of JNNSM phase-2 batch-1. The company will supply the entire module requirement for the 20 MW (AC) project to be built by ACME Solar, a solar power developer in India. The modules will be manufactured at TPS’ manufacturing facility in Bangalore.

ACME Solar, during the JNNSM bidding last year, won projects totalling 100 MW. Of this, 20 MW, under Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) policy of MNRE, needs to be constructed using cells and modules manufactured domestically, said TPS.

ACME Solar is a three-way joint venture between ACME, EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), the renewable energy arm of French state-run electricity utility Électricité de France S.A., and Luxembourg-based natural resources saving group EREN.

Manoj Kumar Upadhyay, CEO, ACME Solar, said of the project, “Modules constitute the single largest component in a solar power project, upwards of 50% of the total cost.

"ACME Solar goes through a very tough process of approval for module manufacturers, their technology, reliability and financial strength to ensure that they last for 25 years to give high confidence to government, lenders and other stake holders about the performance. Tata Power Solar passed our qualification criteria and automatically became our primary choice for procuring domestically manufactured modules.”

Tata Power Solar has recently announced a 60% increase in its module manufacturing capacity, and the Bangalore facility now has 200 MW module and 180 MW cell production capacities.

Under the DCR policy of MNRE for the phase-2 of JNNSM, a total of 375MW of solar power plants have to be built using domestically produced cells and modules. The initiative is aimed at promoting manufacturing in the country.

American Solar ranks in INC top 20

American Solar Direct (ASD), a residential solar energy provider in California, is the 17th fastest growing private company in the United States, according to the latest list compiled by Inc. magazine and published in its September 2014 issue.

ASD, the highest placed solar system provider on the Inc. 500 list, has been well positioned in the US solar market. The US experienced a 41 percent increase in photovoltaic (PV) installations in 2013, making solar the second largest source of new electricity generating capacity (behind natural gas), according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). SEIA’s current projections forecast 2014 to be another record-breaking year.

ASD’s revenue growth between 2010 and 2013, the period examined in the Inc. 500 “America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” report, was 11,560 per cent.

During this period, ASD experienced significant expansion within California with the opening of multiple offices and operation centres throughout the state and by offering residential customers complete residential solar solutions, according to a press release.

“Our growth is a testament to our commitment to customer service, an outstanding team of employees and our ability to deliver a comprehensive end-to-end solution to residential customers,” said American Solar Direct CEO Brennan Mulcahy. “We continue to be an ideal choice for homeowners who want to take more control over their electric bills with little to no up-front payment.”

ReneSola sees high growth potential in India’s DCR market

ReneSola has reported that it will provide 5.4MW in solar modules to Welspun Energy Pvt. Ltd., a New Delhi-based engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm, for a utility-scale project in India.

Under the terms of the agreement, ReneSola will provide 240W and 245W versions of its Virtus II solar PV modules, which were manufactured at the company's India-based OEM facilities, thereby satisfying the project's domestic content requirements (DCR), which call for certain solar projects to incorporate locally manufactured components. The companies hope to expand the project, which is subject to regulatory allocation by India's National Solar Mission.

"ReneSola's global OEM capacity of more than 1.1 gigawatts allows us to respond quickly to client demand and to shifting trade policies across the major solar markets, which have become problematic for many of our China-based peers," said Xianshou Li, the company's chief executive officer.

"India is one of our seven OEM locations around the world, and we see high growth potential in the country's DCR market. Moreover, we look forward to working with Welspun Energy, an experienced and fast-growing EPC, to help India reach its green energy goals," said the CEO.

Tax structured investments ‘critical to driving capital’ into US solar

Three new North Carolina utility-scale solar farms have begun producing power, racking up another 18.2 MW. Projects of this size are highly complex and require capital and expertise from multiple sources.

A significant portion of the investment responsible for the projects was managed by Washington, D.C.–based solar investment and financing firm, Sol Systems.

"Tax structured investments have been critical to driving capital into the solar asset class," commented Yuri Horwitz, CEO of Sol Systems.  "North Carolina is an especially attractive market, and we will deploy tax equity into another 18 to 20 MW before the end of the year," he added.

Sol Systems managed the investment on behalf of an insurance client as part of the firm's tax equity initiative to produce secure, sustainable solar investments for banks, insurance companies, utilities, and Fortune 100 clients.  Strata Solar developed the project opportunities, and National Cooperative Bank served as the lender in the transactions.

David Scoglio, Strata Solar CFO, said "We have been fortunate to work with several strong partners in the tax aggregate space to help us continue to grow the solar footprint across the state."

"National Cooperative Bank has a strong commitment to the solar industry, and we look forward to working with Strata Solar and Sol Systems on future transactions," said Matthew Wright, Senior Vice President, National Cooperative Bank.

This is the first half of a the investment that the partners will channel into the North Carolina solar market, which now ranks fourth in the country having installed 592 MW of solar electric capacity according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The farms, located in Laurinburg, Clarkton, and Spring Hope, are home to 60,436 solar panels and are projected to produce 30 million kilowatt hours annually.