Solar, Wind Power

Investors Pair Up for Chilean Wind-Solar Projects

In May of this year Chile exceeded 1 GW of installed capacity of renewable energy, and is on track to possibly achieve 1.3 GW by year’s end, according to the Centro de Energías Renovables (CER). More than half of that comes from biomass and nearly a third from hydro. Chile has a growing appetite for renewables, though, with roughly 10.5 GW of projects approved or under assessment.

A new joint venture aims to tack even more onto Chile’s renewable energy plate. Global wind and solar developer Mainstream Renewable Power and global emerging market investor Actis have formed a joint venture to develop 600 MW of wind and solar projects in Chile by early 2016, which would increase the country’s renewable energy capacity by 3.6 percent. Actis will invest $290 million as the the majority stakeholder — with a 60 percent share — in Aela Energía and purchase projects that have been developed by Mainstream Renewable Power. Mainstream will continue to manage construction and support operation and maintence of the projects.

The move represents Actis’ first investment in Chile, but the company is active elsewhere in the region. It’s an investor in Honduras’ Cerro de Hula, the largest wind farm in Central America, and manages Energuate, Guatemala’s national electricity distribution company. Mainstream’s own renewables portfolio in Chile includes more than 3.5 GW of wind and solar projects, about a fifth of its overall global pipeline. The two companies have worked together before. In 2012 Mainstream won three government tenders in South Africa for 238 MW of wind and solar projects that are currently in construction. Actis invested $100 million in the projects, which are due to be operational in early 2014.

“This platform is about meeting the needs of offtakers, particularly large-scale industrial consumers in Chile who need top-quality projects and competitive electricity prices,” stated Mainstream CEO Eddie O’Connor. “The market is looking for independent power producers with strong financial backing, expert local knowledge, and experience in delivering operational assets. This joint venture very much ticks all of these boxes.

O’Connor noted that this Actis collaboration is ideal to accelerate its Chilean project pipeline — and perhaps beyond. “Mainstream has a global pipeline of over 17,000 megawatts of wind and solar projects across four continents,” he stated. “This is something we may look to replicate across our other markets.”  

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