Eight Rivers Acquires US$50m Loan For Solar Project

Angela Rainford, partner in Eight Rivers Energy Company and managing director of Rekamniar Frontier Ventures.

Angella Rainford, a partner in Eight Rivers Energy Company, said she secured US$50 million in financing this month for Jamaica's largest solar plant.

The loans were acquired through foreign institutions as local banks were unable to offer a competitive repayment period, said Rainford.

"We invited select local banks to participate, but the tenor of the loan was difficult to achieve in the local market. Most local institutions could not lend for over 15 years," she said, but declined to disclose the terms of the loans received.

Eight Rivers received backing from France's Proparco development bank and Dutch development bank FMO. Proparco is a development financial Institution partly owned by French Development Agency and private shareholders.

The project partners in Eight Rivers include Rekamniar Frontier Ventures of the United Kingdom, Neoen of France, and private equity firm MPC Capital based in Germany. MPC Capital is also a co-investor in the project. Jamaican Rainford heads Rekamniar as its managing director.

The solar plant, to be located in Westmoreland, is a US$60 million project for which construction was formally launched last December.

"Eight Rivers has signed with lenders which will provide the loans for the plant construction," Rainford told the Financial Gleaner. "There have been a few delays and so most likely the plant will be commissioned early 2019," she said.

MPC Capital indicated on its website that the financing agreement was signed in mid-May.

Last year, Rainford expressed an interest in participating in additional energy projects, in particular, energy storage. In such a case, the company's solar plant would at night sell excess energy generated during the day to the national energy grid. Energy storage facilities have gained traction with innovations from American company Tesla and BYD of China. Rainford expects the Jamaican Government to offer storage tenders some time in 2018.

Rekamniar signed a power purchase agreement with Jamaica Public Service Company in January 2017 to supply electricity to the grid.

Eight Rivers Energy Company will own and operate the plant, which, at 37 megawatts of capacity, would be nearly twice the size of the largest solar plant in Jamaica. It is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 30,000 tonnes per annum.