Mainstream Raises $70 Million for Wind Energy Plant in Chile

Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., an Irish clean-energy developer, raised $70 million, including a $52 million loan from China Development Bank Corp., for a 33- megawatt wind farm in southern Chile.

The remaining $18 million will be funded by Mainstream’s own equity, Chief Executive Officer Eddie O’Connor said by phone. Construction has already started and the wind farm is expected to open in September with Mainstream selling the energy directly to the spot market.

“We like Chile — it is a place which welcomes foreign investment,” O’Connor said yesterday from Johannesburg. “We haven’t found too many barriers to entry — it’s a stable political market, a good place to do business and it is very open and has a need for power.” Mainstream is building another, 150-megawatt wind farm in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Chile expects to triple generating capacity in the next 15 years because of rising demand from mining companies. “With average industrial tariffs around $120 a megawatt-hour, wind and solar sources are fully competitive,” said Eduardo Tabbush, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Several wind projects in Chile sell directly to the market, given the very high energy prices which have reached $300 a megawatt-hour at times.”

Mainstream said last year it was seeking loans from Chinese state banks and equipment from Chinese manufacturers as western banks rein in spending. The project will use turbines supplied by Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., China’s largest wind-turbine maker. Mainstream is still considering a listing in China as the need for liquidity is still there, O’Connor said.

Global wind and solar developer Mainstream Renewable Power has successfully completed Financial Close and has started constructing its 33MW Negrete Cuel Wind Farm in southern Chile. The wind farm, which is 100% owned by Mainstream, is expected to be fully operational by September this year.

The project has been financed without a Power Purchase Agreement and Mainstream will sell the energy directly into the spot market. China Development Bank has provided USD52 million in senior project finance for the wind farm.  Leading Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Goldwind is supplying the project with its GW87 1.5 MW wind turbines.

Mainstream is developing 2,300MW of wind and solar projects in Chile. The company has been active in the Chilean market since 2009 when it partnered with local Chilean developer Andes Energy. Mainstream has recently won a government tender to develop and build the 150MW Calama Oeste wind farm which is located in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile and is currently constructing four additional wind and solar projects in South Africa and Ireland.

Commenting on the milestone, Mainstream’s Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor said: “I am delighted to announce Mainstream’s fifth project to go into construction across three continents in a period of just six months. Since entering the Chilean market back in 2009 Mainstream has built a very strong and growing portfolio of wind and solar projects, many of which are in the mid to late development stages.

He continued: This deal underpins Mainstream’s position as the leading renewable energy developer in the market.  Mainstream has successfully delivered the project on a merchant basis without a Power Purchase Agreement and secured financing with China Development Bank. ”

“Our customers choose Goldwind turbines because they are among the most advanced and cost efficient machines available on the market today,” said Tim Rosenzweig, CEO for Goldwind in the Americas.  “We are pleased to partner with Mainstream on the Negrete project; a deal that demonstrates both companies’ ability to compete as industry leaders in emerging markets with well developed projects deploying best in class technology”.

Mainstream Renewable Power is one of the world’s leading independent developers of renewable energy projects. With a development pipeline of over 16,000MW globally it is currently constructing solar and wind farms in Chile, Ireland and South Africa.

As Europe’s leading independent offshore wind developer Mainstream is developing just under 8GW of offshore wind projects in England, Scotland and Germany and has 4.45GW of secured grid connection for these offshore projects.

Mainstream is leading the Energy Bridge project which has a firm grid connection to export 5,000MW of wind energy from Ireland to the UK’s National Grid from 2017. Mainstream is developing the wind farms and has signed an MOU with National Grid’s Business Development Arm and REN of Portugal for the transmission infrastructure.

It employs more than 170 experienced staff across four continents with offices in Berlin, Cape Town, Chicago, Dublin, Glasgow, Johannesburg, London, Santiago and Toronto.