Solar technology company, SunEdison, Inc. (SUNE) recently closed a non-recourse debt financing agreement worth approximately $190 million for the construction of the 72.8 megawatt (MW) Maria Elena solar project in northern Chile. Construction of the project is expected to get underway in 2014. Post the announcement, shares of SunEdison closed 1.83% higher in the last trading session (Friday).
Santiago-based solar development company, Solar Chile has a portfolio of early-to-mid stage utility-scale photovoltaic power projects totaling about 1.5 gigawatts or GW in northern Chile, including the Atacama Desert region. Maria Elena, to be constructed in Antofagasta, will be the largest PV solar power plant in Latin America and the first of its kind in Chile. This move will strengthen the company’s position in Chile.
The boards of U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (:OPIC), Inter-American Development Bank (:IDB), the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and CorpBanca have approved loans of $48.9 million, $50.3 million, $16.0 million and $74.8 million, respectively.
Chile’s Atacama Desert absorbs some of the planet’s solid concentration of direct sunlight that makes it a perfect place for solar power generation. Maria Elena will mark a significant progress in the Chilean energy landscape. This venture will help in achieving Chile’s plan to boost green energy and help in the reduction of greenhouse gas releases.
Moreover, we believe that this debt financing agreement will help in accelerating growth of the company’s project portfolio. Also, this financing would increase the confidence of prospective project partners.
In 2013, SunEdison had entered into an agreement with Chile-based steel and iron ore supplier CAP S.A. The companies agreed to jointly work to develop the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in Latin America. The plant will be located in the Atacama Desert and have an installed capacity of 100 megawatt (MW).
It is worth noting that SunEdison reported an 11.3% year-over-year decline in revenues from its semiconductor business in the last-reported quarter. At the same time, the solar business did exceptionally well, growing 86.8% year over year.
Though SunEdison’s growing exposure to the solar energy market is encouraging, project development requires considerable time and investments. Hence, any delay or inability in selling these projects at desired prices could have an impact on liquidity.
Moreover, SunEdison has a highly leveraged balance sheet. The company exited the first quarter with cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of $526.6 million compared with $643.6 million in the previous quarter. Long-term debt (excluding current portion) was $3.49 billion.
Going forward, the pricing environment and competition from SunPower Corp. (SPWR) and First Solar Inc. (FSLR) remain headwinds.
Currently, SunEdison has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Micron Technology (MU) with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) is a better-ranked stock and therefore worth considering.
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