World Bank Group member International Finance Corp. announced the deal Wednesday. IFC said it would loan ENN Solar $45 million and invest up to $15 million in equity for a stake in the company, as well as arrange up to $76 million in loans from commercial banks and other sources.
ENN Solar is part of Chinese natural gas company XinAo Group, which in November 2007 said it was getting into the solar module business with a deal to buy an Applied Materials (NSDQ: AMAT) SunFab thin-film panel manufacturing production line that can deposit amorphous-silicon films on 5.7-square-meter glass panels.
That line is being installed at ENN Solar's Langfang, China plant this month and should start up in the second quarter of 2009 with a capacity of 60 megawatts, IFC announced. Last November, XinAo Group said it planned to eventually reach 500 megawatts of production.
XinAo isn't the only Chinese company installing Applied Materials' SunFab production lines (see Applied Materials' Solar Biz Has Sunny Outlook). Others include Best Solar (see LDK CEO Starts Thin-Film Firm) and Suntech Power, according to a Greentech Media report on the thin-film solar industry.
ENN Solar already has orders for its thin-film modules. In May the company said it would provide San Diego solar panel installer E-Village Solar Inc. with up to 25 megawatts of thin-film panels through 2009.
Analysts say that companies buying the amorphous silicon thin-film solar panel manufacturing lines made by Applied Materials and Swiss competitor Oerlikon could put them in competition with thin-film market leader First Solar (NDSQ: FSLR), which makes cadmium-telluride panels.
Other companies developing thin-film cells made from copper, indium, gallium and selenium, or CIGS, have landed significant funding in recent months.
San Jose, Calif.-based thin-film startup Nanosolar announced in October it had raised $300 million to expand its production (see Nanosolar Confirms $300M Funding). Earlier this month, VentureWire reported (via VentureBeat) that another CIGS company, SoloPower, had raised "almost $200 million" to beef up production (see Funding Roundup: Investors Go for Thin Solar and Hybrid-Electric Cars).
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