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Published on January 29th, 2019 | by Charles W. Thurston


Latin American Solar Developer Atlas Renewable Energy Targets Brazil

January 29th, 2019 by  

Atlas Renewable Energy has recently added Brazil to its portfolio of Latin American investment countries, with the start-up of the 67.1 megawatt São Pedro solar plant in Bom Jesus da Lapa, state of Bahia. Already holding a 1.2 gigawatt solar portfolio in Latin America, the second-largest in the region, the Miami-based group has built solar plants in Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay since it was formed in 2017.

Atlas also has won awards for its novel financing structures, melding smaller private placements with larger international investors and with multilateral development banks, all at different rates of return. A December award involved the 59 MW El Naranjal and the 17 MW Del Litoral photovoltaic projects in Salto, Uruguay, in partnerships with DNB Markets and IDB-Invest. The award came from Bonds & Loans Latin America Awards 2019, in the category of Structured Bond Deal of the Year.

“Not only did Atlas Renewable Energy place an investment grade senior tranche, but also a sub-investment grade subordinated tranche with private investors, both at very attractive rates and long tenors,” the award organizers said.

The São Pedro plant financing was secured through the Banco do Nordeste (BNB), supported by an equivalent sum of commercial bank guarantees from BTG Pactual, Banco ABC Brasil, and Banco Bradesco. The project was contracted under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the chamber of electricity commercialization (Câmara de Comercialização de Energia Elétrica (CCEE), through the government’s energy auction in 2015, Atlas notes.

“The future looks bright for solar energy development in Brazil. Brazil’s solar association announced solar energy production reached 501.9 MW in 2018, showing strong growth over the last two years,” notes Andressa Quadros, a spokesperson for Atlas. “Additionally, the new government is supporting distributed generation through its Convention 16/15, which exempts the owners of solar power generators up to 1 MW in size, from paying the ICMS state sales tax under the net metering program,” she explains.

Brazil is highly sensitive to corporate citizenship. To emphasize its commitment to the local environment and population, Atlas offered community members educational and professional development programs including apiculture training and cultural relevance. The company also built two nursery gardens in local schools. These combined programs reached a total of more than 1,500 people in the local community, Atlas says.

In addition to the São Pedro Solar Plant, Atlas’ Brazilian portfolio includes three other projects under construction and development, Juazeiro and Sertão Solar in the state of Bahia, and Sol do Futuro, in Ceará state.

“Atlas Renewable Energy’s success in Brazil is attributed to three key factors: our commitment to the Brazilian market, where in just two years it has established itself as the second largest player in the Brazilian solar energy industry; our dedication to the growth of the local communities where we operate, where we offer local services based on their needs allowing us to support their development; and the third aspect is the transfer of technologies, where we aim to raise the bar in the industry by providing our engineers with the knowledge of the most advanced technologies, and ways to implement them in our plants,” says Luis Pita, Atlas’ General Manager for Brazil.

In Mexico, Atlas Renewable Energy’s 129.5 MW Guajiro Project is under construction and set to begin operation in mid-2019. In August 2018 Atlas and the Banco de Comercio Exterior (Bancomext) announced today the signing of a long-term financing agreement for the solar power plant in Mexico, located in the state of Hidalgo, the company says.

Bancomext will provide $88.5 million dollars to finance the construction of the Guajiro project, along with a $17 million dollars line of credit for Value Added Tax (VAT). The project was awarded a PPA with the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico’s federal electricity company, in the first long-term energy auction, carried out in 2016 as part of Mexico’s energy reform, the company says.

In Chile, the company already operates two photovoltaic plants, the 69.5 MW Javiera plant, which was the first private PPA in the region, and the 110 MW Quilapilún plant, inaugurated in 2017.

Atlas Renewable Energy is part of the Energy Fund IV, founded by Actis, a private equity investor in the energy sector of emerging markets. Actis has allocated more than $600 million of equity in Atlas Renewable Energy to invest in long-term renewable energy contracted projects.

Atlas Renewable Energy’s growth is focused on the main emerging markets and economies of Latin America, using its proven development, commercialization, and structuring know-how to bring clean energy to the region.

Actis is a leading investor in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America that delivers consistent, competitive returns, responsibly, through insights gained from trusted relationships, local knowledge and deep sector expertise. Founded in 2004, Actis has an unparalleled heritage in growth markets, set within a culture of active ownership and has raised $12 billion since inception, operating through 13 offices globally. 


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About the Author

Charles specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. Among key areas of focus are bifacial panels and solar tracking. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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