Rome, Italy — SunPower Corp. announced that financing of €44.5 million, made up of a term loan of €40 million and a short-term VAT facility of €4.5 million, has been finalized for the second phase of the Montalto di Castro solar photovoltaic (PV) power park, the largest in Italy. With the first 24 megawatts (MW) of the park completed ahead of schedule at the end of 2009, this second phase includes an additional 8.8 MW that began construction in February and is expected to be complete in July.
The entire 85-MW Montalto di Castro park, located approximately 100 kilometers north of Rome in the province of Viterbo (region of Lazio), is planned to be built and fully operational by the end of this year. Construction of the first phase of the Montalto park was completed in eight months and required more than 250 workers and the services of ten skilled local companies employed for civil, mechanical and electrical services.
A dedicated 150-MW substation was designed and constructed by Terna SpA. A visitor center is also planned for the site to provide education on solar power and other renewable energy sources.
“The Montalto park is the first and largest solar project of its kind in Italy, and we are very pleased to have completed the financing on this second phase,” said Dennis Arriola, SunPower CFO. “The demand for solar in Italy is strong today and growing because solar is a quickly installed, cost-competitive, reliable source of power. Financiers understand that these parks make good business sense while serving local communities with clean, renewable power.”
SunPower also announced this week that it had signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture (JV) with AU Optronics Corp., a manufacturer of thin-film transistor liquid-crystal displays (TFT-LCD) based in Taiwan. The JV will own and operate SunPower’s 1.4 gigawatt solar cell fabrication facility (Fab 3), now under construction in Malaysia. SunPower and AUO will equally own the JV and contribute equal capital funding.
“AUO’s proven ability to rapidly scale advanced manufacturing technology while driving consistent, aggressive cost reduction makes them the ideal partner to help SunPower ramp Fab 3,” said Tom Werner, SunPower’s CEO. “We expect this JV will reduce our effective Fab 3 capital expense per watt by more than 35 percent while capitalizing on AUO’s world-class manufacturing expertise to reduce solar cell manufacturing costs.”