The Export-Import Bank of the United States has approved $61 million in loan guarantees to Seoul-based Gochang Solar Park Co. for buying solar panels from SolarWorld Industries America and building five power plants in Korea.

The loan guarantees allow Gochang Solar Park to borrow money from the Private Export Funding Corp. The financing includes the $10.2 million for constructing the power plants, the Ex-Im Bank said Wednesday. The loans are to be repaid in 13.5 years. The bank has provided loan guarantees for other solar business development before, including a $25 million credit line to United Solar Ovonic in Auburn Hills, Mich. last year. 

The bank, the export credit agency of the U.S. government, created the Office of Renewable Energy and Environmental Exports in 2007 to expand its effort on helping American companies export their goods and services. In the last five years, the bank has provided $400 million in loan guarantees and other types of financing to renewable energy companies in solar, wind and geothermal sectors, said Craig O'Connor, director of the bank's renewable energy office. 

The five power plants in Korea, with a combined capacity of 15 megawatts, were completed last September and are generating power on a 97-acre land in southwestern Korea. The electricity is sold to Korea Electric Power Corp. under a 15-year deal. Gochang completed the projects by lining up the financing in Korea first, a move made to meet deadlines and benefit from Korea’s feed-in tariff, which is a government-set price for solar electricity. The Korean financing is now converted into the Ex-Im Bank’s loan guarantees, the bank said.

SolarWorld Industries America is based in Hillsboro, Ore., where it opened a silicon wafer and solar cell factory last October. It has a 100-megawatt panel assembly factory in Camarillo, Calif.

The company is the North American subsidiary of the Germany company, SolarWorld AG. SolarWorld AG recently built a 150-megawatt solar panel factory in South Korea via its joint venture with SolarPark Engineering Co.