Mainstream Raises $70 Million for Wind Farm in Southern Chile

Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., an Irish clean-energy developer, raised $70 million, including a $52 million loan from China Development Bank Corp., for a 33- megawatt wind farm in southern Chile.

The remaining $18 million will be funded by Mainstream’s own equity, Chief Executive Officer Eddie O’Connor said by phone. Construction has already started and the wind farm is expected to open in September with Mainstream selling the energy directly to the spot market.

“We like Chile -- it is a place which welcomes foreign investment,” O’Connor said yesterday from Johannesburg. “We haven’t found too many barriers to entry -- it’s a stable political market, a good place to do business and it is very open and has a need for power.” Mainstream is building another, 150-megawatt wind farm in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Chile expects to triple generating capacity in the next 15 years because of rising demand from mining companies. “With average industrial tariffs around $120 a megawatt-hour, wind and solar sources are fully competitive,” said Eduardo Tabbush, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Several wind projects in Chile sell directly to the market, given the very high energy prices which have reached $300 a megawatt-hour at times.”

Mainstream said last year it was seeking loans from Chinese state banks and equipment from Chinese manufacturers as western banks rein in spending. The project will use turbines supplied by Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., China’s largest wind-turbine maker. Mainstream is still considering a listing in China as the need for liquidity is still there, O’Connor said.

Outside of Chile, Mainstream is working with utilities from Portugal and China on a potential 5,000-megawatt link to export wind power from Ireland to the U.K. It’s also building one wind and two solar plants in South Africa at a cost of 500 million euros ($682 million).

To contact the reporter on this story: Louise Downing in London at ldowning4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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