It is the fifth solar fund to be orchestrated by San Francisco-based Renewable Ventures, and the first since Fotowatio acquired a controlling stake in the company for $19.7m in March 2009.
The fund will enable the construction of PV plants totalling 35 megawatts (MW) within the next year.
“Solar Fund V has been designed to use capital and incentives available under the [US] stimulus programme in a way that can accelerate the development of more solar projects and quickly create jobs in the US renewable-energy sector,” says Matt Cheney, chief executive of Renewable Ventures.
The fund it structured to include both debt (issued by Manulife Financial Corporation) and equity (from Renewable Ventures itself and Wells Fargo). Cheney says the combination of debt and equity will enable the fund to seek a broader range of federal incentives.
Madrid-based Fotowatio’s purchase of Renewable Ventures makes it one of the largest solar-energy players in the US. Among other assets, the transaction included the purchase of the largest PV plant in North America, a 14MW project at the Nellis air base in Nevada.
The first project to be financed by Solar Fund V will be a 2MW array in Ft. Collins, Colorado, that will sell its electricity to Colorado State University and its green-energy credits to the utility Xcel Energy. The 15-acre solar plant will be one of the largest PV installations at a US university when it is completed later this year.
Fotowatio – owned by GE Energy Financial Services, Landon Group and Qualitas Venture Capital – is one of the world’s largest solar-energy developers. It currently owns and operates arrays totalling 130MW across Europe and the US, and it claims to have a project pipeline totalling more than 1 gigawatt, primarily focused in Spain, Italy and the US.