Etrion secures PPA for Salvador project amid volatile spot prices; records Q1 net loss

To date, energy generated from the 70 MW Project Salvador, completed by Etrion, SunPower and Total in January, has been operating on a merchant basis. However, Etrion announced yesterday that in order to secure a portion of the revenues, it has signed a 15 year PPA with EE-ERNC-1, an investment grade off-taker, for approximately 35% of the plant’s output, starting on January 1, 2016. Under this, it will receive around US$0.10 per kWh indexed to the US Consumer Price Index.

Commenting in its Q1 2015 financials, Etrion said electricity market prices in Chile’s SIC network – the country’s central grid – at the Diego de Almagro node relevant to Project Salvador, were "particularly volatile" in Q1, at around $60 – 160/MWh. On average, market prices were around $110/MWh over the past year.

Etrion said the volatility, expected to remain until the country’s electricity grid is expanded and interconnected in 2017-2018, has arisen from a number of factors including, "a reduction in energy demand as a result of the collapse in commodity prices and delay in mine expansions, the significant increase in installed solar power generation compared to forecasts and the effect of the reduction in oil and gas and coal prices."

Olivier Potart, Antuko’s Chief Investment Officer in charge of energy trading for EE-ERNC-1, added, "The energy produced by the Salvador solar park is extremely predictable and stable throughout the year. It is therefore a robust energy source in EE-ERNC-1’s portfolio."

Last November, it was reported that Project Salvador, which was completed five months ahead of schedule, was the largest solar plant in the world to sell electricity on the spot market. According to Etrion’s latest figures, the plant has produced 47.5 million kWh of solar electricity in the first quarter of 2015.

Etrion is looking to develop a further 99 MW of PV in Chile across three sites in the Antofagasta region, and one in the Atacama region. It estimates that the $210.6 million projects will take nine months to be brought into operation, once PPAs and long-term non-recourse project financing has been secured.

Q1 loss

Regarding this year’s Q1 financials, Etrion has reported a net loss of $2.5 million, slightly better than the $8.2 million net loss seen in Q1 2014. Despite this, a gross profit of $2.4 million was recorded. The increase was attributed to the Salvador Project and higher solar irradiation in Italy.

Revenue of US$10.4 million, up from $8.4 million during the same period last year was reaped, while EBITDA increased from $3.7 million in Q1 2014 to $5.5 million.

"We are pleased to recognize our first electricity sales from the 70 MW Salvador solar park in Chile in the first quarter of 2015, resulting in an almost 300% increase in production, 24% increase in revenue and 46% increase in EBITDA from the comparable period last year," stated Marco A. Northland, the Company’s CEO.