Etrion Corporation (TSX: ETX / OMX: ETX), a solar independent power producer, today announced that it has completed construction of the 70-megawatt (MW) Salvador project in the Atacama region of Chile. Project Salvador is the world’s largest solar power plant based on spot market electricity revenues and is the second-largest solar park connected in Chile.
Marco A. Northland, Etrion’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “The 70 MW Salvador solar park was connected five months ahead of schedule and under budget thanks to the hard work of our local team and contractors. This project almost doubles Etrion’s installed net capacity and is expected to significantly increase our annual cash flow. We look forward to advancing our 99 MW of greenfield solar development pipeline in Chile next year.”
Project Salvador is owned initially 70% by Etrion, 20% by Total (CAC: TOTF.PA) and 10% by a local developer. Total’s affiliate, SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR), was contracted for the engineering, procurement and construction of the solar park using SunPower OasisTM Power Block technology. Construction-related activities began in December 2013, and the solar PV park was connected to the grid on November 3, 2014. Project Salvador has entered into a long-term, fixed-price operation and maintenance agreement with SunPower. As part of this agreement, the project’s solar panels will be cleaned six times per year by SunPower’s new robotic system that expedites the cleaning process and achieves substantial conservation of water, thereby reducing cost and improving overall solar power production.
Project Salvador will initially operate on a merchant basis where the electricity produced will be sold on the spot market and delivered to the Sistema Interconectado Central electricity network, with the ability to secure future power purchase agreements. The solar power plant was built on 133 hectares leased from the Chilean government through a long-term concession, and the facility was connected through the power infrastructure of Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile .
Project Salvador is expected to produce approximately 200 gigawatt-hours of solar electricity per year, enough to supply electricity to approximately 80,000 households in Chile.
Chile has an investment grade rating and offers attractive investment opportunities for leading financial institutions to provide non-recourse project finance. Project Salvador was financed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, , the U.S. government’s development finance institution, with a US dollar-denominated, non-recourse project loan for approximately 70% of the US$200 million total project cost. The remaining 30% equity portion was funded by Etrion, Total and a local developer based on their initial respective ownership interests.