Nippon Renewable Energy secures $250 million for Japanese solar projects

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Nippon Renewable Energy (NRE) has raised JPY 26.1 billion (US$250 million) in equity capital to fund utility-scale solar generation facilities across Japan.

NRE, one of Japan’s biggest independent solar utility companies, is partnering with Japan Solar on a pipeline of more than 300 MW over the next two years.

NRE secured the investment funding from Switzerland-based Partners Group and Singapore’s Equis Funds Group, which worked with Equis Asia Fund and Equis co-investors Babson Capital, LGsuper and Qantas Superannuation.

NRE currently owns and is developing a pipeline of more than 300 MW of Japanese solar projects, which will be financed with Japan Solar. Four projects in Oita, Hyogo, Hiroshima and Aomori prefectures totaling 47.5 MW have been contracted and will commence construction having completed financing and construction documentation. A further 110 MW of projects will follow this year. The first plants are expected to start generating electricity in the second half of 2014.

NRE, which oversees engineering, design, development and project management in addition to its partnership with Japan Solar, said it had sufficient capital to progress with projects on an all-equity basis if required.

NRE develops each project based on the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI) fixed-priced feed-in-tariff regime, under 20 year power purchase agreements.

NRE Director Shoichi Kaneda said, "Each NRE solar project involves the support of local construction contractors and Japanese utilities, creating sustainable employment in Japanese rural areas and important local community development. We are proud to be supporting the future development of Japan in an environmentally responsible manner."

David Russell, CEO and partner at Equis Funds Group, added, "Being an early mover into Japanese renewable energy has resulted in a win-win-win relationship for Japanese communities, the Japanese government and investors."

Benjamin Haan, managing director and head of Private Infrastructure Asia-Pacific at Partners Group, said, "We are excited to invest in the rapidly developing Japanese renewable energy market and to support the NRE management in filling the large power generation gap in Japan. We are confident of additional investment opportunities in the near term that will offer our clients the opportunity to further contribute to sustainable energy development in Japan."