ARLINGTON, USA: AES Solar Energy Ltd, a joint venture between The AES Corp. and Riverstone Holdings LLC, announced that one of its subsidiaries closed on long-term project financing facilities of €173 million to finance the construction of the Cellino San Marco (CSM) project, a 43 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) facility located in the Puglia region of Italy. CSM is the largest solar PV project in Italy to reach financial close.
A total of five banks participated in this financing: Société Générale (as Documentation, Technical & Modeling Bank and Hedging Coordinator), Unicredit Mediocredito Centrale (as Documentation Bank), BNP Paribas (as Insurance Bank), Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Dexia Crediop (as Agent).
SACE is taking this opportunity to step up its involvement in financing solar PV projects, participating via providing a guarantee for a portion of Société Générale’s commitment. The facilities cover approximately 85% of estimated project costs at completion and the final maturity date is 18 years post construction.
Massimiliano Battisti, a Managing Director at Société Générale, one of the co-ordinating banks in this transaction remarked: "While the Italian regulatory environment makes solar PV a highly attractive investment, its dynamics make innovative financing solutions necessary. This poses a significant barrier to entry for less sophisticated investors.
"In this environment, we believe that it is very important to have partners like AES Solar who are among the most experienced sponsors in this sector, as they have both the industry and the financial expertise as well as the ability to understand the subtleties of the local market to enable them to successfully deliver the project."
Construction on the project is underway and the project is expected to reach commercial operation by the end of 2010, qualifying it for a 20-year regulated feed-in tariff under the “Conto Energia” scheme. CSM will use First Solar thin film panels.
The addition of the 43 MW CSM will more than double the global operating portfolio of AES Solar, which currently includes 38 MW across France, Greece and Spain.