China will be investing somewhere around $1 billion into the Russian solar power industry over the next few years, according to recent reports.
A subsidiary of the country’s Amur Sirius — “Solar Systems” — is currently in the process of developing a solar PV panel production facility in Russia’s Tatarstan Republic. The development of that project (amongst others) constitutes what is probably a large enough investment to make China’s Solar Systems the “largest private investor” in the Russian solar power industry — investing around $1 billion in total.
The $1 billion estimate was provided by the company’s head of investment and finance, Olga Bykova, in an interview with Vedomosti.
Solar Systems won a contract for the development of 175 MW worth of new solar energy capacity in three different Russian regions back in July 2014. According to statements made previously by the company, the plan is for that capacity to all be up and running by 2016–2018.
The development of that capacity is expected to cost somewhere around $450 million. Given that the company is aiming to win further contracts beyond that one, it decided to build the solar PV panel plant in Tatarstan — in order to meet Russia’s legal requirement that solar power plants built in the country utilize domestically produced equipment. Once completed, that factory will have a production capacity of about 100 MW worth of solar panels a year.
Solar Systems is planning to select its financial/technological partners by the end of 2014, according to Bykova.
“We are considering six applications from both Chinese and European companies,” she stated. “We are negotiating with a wide range of investors, including funds and banks, but it’s too early to talk about concrete results.”
Among those in negotiations are ING, IFC, and Sberbank. The company is also, reportedly, considering/planning to take out a loan (or loans) in China for the development of the projects.
$1 billion is a very substantial investment, but it’s not really all that surprising. Russia and China have been strengthening their ties across a wide number of different industries in the wake of EU/American sanctions against Russia — even together considering the construction of a new tran-Siberian railroad route that would cut travel time between the two countries’ primary population centers significantly.
And when you consider the fact that China currently possesses huge reserves of American currency, the move makes even more sense — with the the US dollar recently on something of a surge, and its long-term prospects as an international currency looking in some ways shaky, especially so. Why not use some of these reserves strengthening ties with your neighbors while it’s still the dominant currency?
Image Credit: Russian Flag via Flickr CC
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