SunEdison closes financing for 81.7 MW Honduras solar projects

SunEdison has partnered with three leading funding bodies to debt-finance the largest solar PV project in Central America to date.

The Californian-headquartered solar company has closed a $146 million finance deal with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) for the development of 81.7 MW of PV projects in Honduras.

The scheme will grid-connect three large-scale solar PV plants – a 23.3 MW Pacifico plant, a 23.3 MW Choluteca I plant, and a 35.1 MW Choluteca II plant – which will provide solar energy to national utility ENEE under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Once complete, the plants will form part of the largest grid-connected solar project in the country, boosting Honduras’ clean energy portfolio and setting the pace for the 600 MW of solar power contracts awarded by the government in 2014.

SunEdison will operate, manage and maintain the three plants, which are to be located in the Choluteca region of Honduras and connected in the second half of next year.

"We are delighted to enter this new high-growth market with world-class financial institutions like the IFC, CABEI and OFID," said SunEdison’s president for Europe, Middle Easts, Africa and Latin America Jose Perez. "Solar energy will play a key role in meeting Honduras’ growing energy demand and will reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuel. This latest project demonstrates that SunEdison continues to lead as the largest renewable energy developer in Latin America."

The deal was announced shortly after SunEdison was awarded 350 MW of solar PV projects in the latest Chilean auction, a deal that SunEdison Chile Ceo Alfredo Solar told pv magazine will mean "SunEdison is well positioned to supply Chile with plent of cost-effective, clean solar energy".

Majority funding for the Honduras project will come from IFC, which has provided debt financing of $85.9 million. The IFC’s head for infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean, Gabriel Goldschmidt, said: "By helping Honduras develop its solar resources we are signaling our commitment to this critical sector, helping to reduce oil imports and lowering the cost of energy for the country’s industries and consumers."

Recent big-name players in the Honduran solar industry include ABB – which provided 146 MW of inverters to the region’s single-largest solar PV project in November – and Canadian Solar, which supplied the modules for the same installations.