5 September 2011

US Ex-Im Bank providing $455m in project funding for First Solar exports to Canada

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), says that, at a tour of its manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, OH, Fred P. Hochberg, chairman & president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) announced the bank's authorization of two transactions totaling $455.7m to support First Solar’s exports to solar energy projects in Ontario, Canada.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also participated in the factory tour, where he and Hochberg met with workers and outlined efforts to create and sustain jobs by increasing exports.

The transactions constitute Ex-Im’s largest ever financings supporting US solar energy exports. The support was needed because viable long-term financing for these projects was not otherwise available in the commercial marketplace.

In fiscal 2011, Ex-Im is providing a record level of support for US exports related to solar energy production. Through 1 September, it has approved about $650m to support sales of US goods and services to solar energy projects.

Ex-Im has authorized nearly $573m in fiscal 2011 to support First Solar’s exports to solar energy projects in not only Canada but also in India collectively. The bank’s total authorizations on behalf of First Solar are supporting an estimated 550 jobs at the Perrysburg manufacturing facility.

“US exports provide a bright spot in our economic recovery, and it is critical that we encourage more American companies to compete in the global marketplace,” says Hochberg. “These two transactions will boost Ohio’s economy, create hundreds of local jobs and move us closer to President Obama’s goal of doubling US exports by the end of 2014,” he adds. 

“Ex-Im Bank's support strengthens First Solar’s competitiveness and enables us to sustain US renewable-energy manufacturing and the jobs that go with it,” says James Brown, president of First Solar Utility Systems Business Group. “Financing costs represent a major part of any solar project, so this support helps accelerate the deployment of renewable energy worldwide.” 

In two separate transactions, Ex-Im is providing guarantees supporting commercial loans to project borrowers for the purchase of First Solar’s and other US exports:

1. a $236.7m (CDN$226.1m) loan to support First Solar’s exports for the construction of a 50MW project consisting of five 10MW systems in three facilities in the Ontario townships of Amerherstburg, Belmont and Walpole (connected to the grid through the Hydro One, Erie Thames Power and Haldimand Hydro distribution systems).

2. a $219m (CDN$184.3m) loan to support First Solar’s exports for the construction of a 40MW project in St. Clair, Ontario, consisting of the Moore facility and the Sombra facility, on separate sites near St. Clair Lake (connected to the grid through the Hydro One distribution system).

Electricity produced by the projects will be sold under multiple 20-year power-purchase agreements to the Ontario Power Authority under Ontario’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program. In both transactions, Ex-Im Bank is guaranteeing Canadian-dollar-denominated loans made with the proceeds of two Canadian market bond issuances with repayment terms of 18 years.

First Solar is also the parent company of First Solar Development Canada Inc (FSDCI), which is the project developer and engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) contractor. The transactions are supporting First Solar’s export of these services in addition to its Series 3 thin-film CdTe solar-PV modules. Also supported are exports of power inverters from Xantrex Technology USA Inc of Elkhart, IN (a subsidiary of Schneider Electric).

In addition to the Ontario projects, in fiscal 2011 Ex-Im Bank has authorized financing for First Solar’s exports to three projects in India: $18m for the 15MW ACME Solar Technology project in the state of Gujarat; $15.7m for the 5MW Azure Power project in the state of Rajasthan; and $84.3m for the 40MW Dahanu Solar Power project (Reliance Power Ltd), also in Rajasthan.

See related items:

US Ex–Im Bank $16m loan funds Azure’s 5MW plant in Rajasthan

US Ex-Im Bank $9.2m loan finances Abound's exports to India

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

Visit: www.exim.gov

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