UK Export Finance (UKEF) has signed its largest ever guarantee for a solar project financing, in a bumper deal backing British exports to a new facility in Turkey.

The UK’s official export credit agency will provide a £217mn (US$291mn) guarantee for a buyer credit facility from JP Morgan, with the US bank acting as lead arranger and lender on the agreement.

JP Morgan is the only lender covered by the UK government guarantee, but a UKEF tells GTR there are a further six Turkish banks which will provide a total of US$500mn to the project. UKEF’s guarantee covers approximately 36% of the total funding package, the spokesperson says.

Kalyon Enerji’s 1.35GW Karapinar solar project is expected to be operational by late 2022, and according to UKEF will be the largest solar facility in Turkey.

The UKEF-backed financing will support over 100 British jobs as the integration of the General Electric (GE) solar technology and the assembly of the solar power station will take place in the UK.

It’s the first time GE, which was announced as the developer of the project in September, has deployed its so-called “Flexinverter” solar power station technology for a development outside the US.

The new facility will be comprised of 3.5 million panels covering an area of 20 million square metres, and will be capable of delivering clean electricity to approximately 2 million people in Turkey.

“UK Export Finance is putting the UK at the heart of the global green energy transition,” says international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan. “Firm action from the UK alone is not enough to fight the climate crisis. UKEF’s financing encourages other countries to invest in renewable energy and opens new markets for UK businesses that will power a recovery underpinned by green jobs.”

The project is part of the first Renewable Energy Resources Zones programme launched by the Turkish Ministry of Energy in 2017. The government is aiming to have commissioned 10GW of solar capacity in the decade up to 2027.

“GE is proud to be partnering with UKEF again to deliver one of Turkey’s most significant renewable projects,” says Guto Davies, global public capital leader at GE Energy Financial Services.

The move comes amid a ramping up in efforts across the export credit sector to reduce exposure to fossil fuel activities, and at the same time boost support for renewable and clean energy deals.

A landmark paper from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), published in September, found that the export credit industry has historically lagged behind commercial banks on environmental issues.

But the ICC says in the report the role of export credit agencies in supporting sustainable finance is changing rapidly, and it expects agencies across the OECD countries to roll out new policies and incentives this year. UKEF ruled out any fresh support for oil, gas and coal deals in March.