Opic is to provide financing for SunPower’s 70MW Chilean solar plant.

The US development financial institution (DFI) will be providing 70% of the overall project cost (worth US$200mn) with the remainder coming from Total, Etrion and the initial project developer Solventus, in the form of equity.

The OPIC loan will be a dollar-denominated project loan with a tenor of 19.5 years. The first drawdown is expected this month.

The Salvador project will begin construction in January 2014 and commercial operations are expected within the year with full commissioning slated for 2015. It is expected to produce 200GWH of solar electricity each year, which it will sell to SunPower at under a long-term fixed price operation and maintenance agreement.

“We are pleased that Opic has agreed to finance the plant and that we have launched construction of the Salvador project,” says Bernard Clement, senior vice-president business operations at Total New Energies.

“This project represents an important milestone for the energy industry, proving that solar can provide wholesale power at prices competitive with conventional generation technologies,” adds Howard Wenger, SunPower’s president of regions.

This is the second major Chilean solar facility to receive funding from Opic in the last two months. The previous was a US$100.4mn project finance facility that was extended to SunEdison by Opic, IFC and Rabobank, for the construction of the 50.7MW San Andres plant in the Atacama region.