Cerro Dominador, the Chilean solar thermal developer controlled by EIG Global Energy Partners, has acquired a 450 MW project in the country from SolarReserve.

The Likana Solar project, located in Llano de Quimal, near Calama, Antofagasta, is the third solar thermal project that EIG has acquired in Chile since 2016, when it bought the 210 MW Cerro Dominador project from Abengoa after the Spanish company filed for bankruptcy.

The purchase price for the Likana project was not disclosed. The project has an estimated cost of $2.4 billion.

“The group has acquired Likana with eyes on future public tenders,” says a spokesperson for Cerro Dominador in Santiago.

The Likana project has obtained environmental permits but investment bankers in New York believe the developer will not pursue financing for it until it has power purchase agreements in place and the company's first project, Cerro Dominador, is fully online.

Abengoa and EIG have raised $1.4 billion in equity, debt and mezzanine capital for the Cerro Dominador project, located in María Elena, Antofagasta.

During the most recent round of financing, Cerro Dominador borrowed $696 million from commercial banks and institutional investors while Brookfield Asset Management provided mezzanine financing. 

ABN AmroBTG Pactual, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Natixis, Santander and Société Générale provided the commercial bank tranche during the second round of financing, a $541 million loan priced at 275 basis points over Libor.

BTG Pactual arranged an additional $65 million tranche with funds from Chile's economic development agency Corfo. The $65 million came from an original loan extended by KfW to the Chilean state. Another $90 million came from unnamed institutional investors.

"The project had a relatively low leverage," says a banker close to the transaction.

The Cerro Dominador project combines a 100 MW photovoltaic facility and a 110 MW concentrated solar thermal plant. Construction is expected to finish before the end of the year with commercial operations starting in May 2020.

The first 62 MW of photovoltaic generation has been online since October 2017, and the P.V. project reached its full capacity of 100 MW in February 2018 (PFR, 5/21/2018).

This project won 15-year PPAs from Chile's National Energy Commission in 2014, at a price of $114/MWh.

In 2018, Cerro Dominador bought the rights to a second solar thermal project, called Atacama 2, from Abengoa. Located in Sierra Gorda, Antofagasta, this project has a capacity of 210 MW.

U.S. developer SolarReserve owns a similar 110 MW facility in Nevada, called Crescent Dunes.

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