MMA Renewable Ventures is raising more than $200 million to carry outsolarpower projects, some of which are already under development, the company said Tuesday.
The Baltimore, Md.-based developer also announced Tuesday that it has used all of the nearly $200 million from the Solar Fund III to build 20.6 megawatts worth of projects in the United States. MMA not only lines up money and oversees solar power plant construction, but it also owns and operates them for customers who have signed long-term agreements to buy electricity from those power projects.
The Solar Fund III deployment saw the installation of what the company said was the world's largest installation of solar panels made with copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), a type of thin film that is new to the market (see Global Solar Uses Own Tech to Power Up Factory). Most of the solar panels sold today use crystalline silicon as the ingredient to convert sunlight into electricity.
Overall, Solar Fund III financed 20 new solar power systems that also included a 2-megawatt system at the Denver International Airport. The fund included equity from Wells Fargo and loans from National Consumer Cooperative Bank.
MMA also is done with Fund IV, which was used only for the 14-megawatt project at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada (see Largest U.S. Solar-Electric Installation Completed).
Overall, MMA was managing 40 megawatts worth of solar power systems by the end of 2008, a 75 percent jump from 2007, the company said.
The company is raising Fund V and has lined up most of the projects, said Mark McLanahan, MMA's senior vice president of corporate development. The company expects to have the money in place "early this year," McLanahan said.
"We have the curve ball of the current financial crisis that makes things more interesting, but we don't anticipate it will be more difficult [to raise the money] than in the past," McLanahan said.
MMA would benefit from a drop in solar panel prices, which have largely been a result of the credit crunch. Solar panel prices have dropped 10 percent to 20 percent in the last three to four months, McLanahan said. A lower demand in the European market has made panels cheaper for U.S. developers, he added.
Installing solar energy systems often requires loans from banks, which have been reluctant to part with their money. As a result, many solar panels' customers have delayed taking deliveries, leading solar panel makers to cut production and halt expansion plans (see Q-Cells Cuts Sales Forecast After Customers Delay Deliveries).
Suntech Power Holdings, which is one of MMA's suppliers, is one of the companies that have put expansion plans on hold. It also recently cut 10 percent of the workforce (see Suntech Laid Off 10%, Factories Running at 50%-60% Capacity).
McLanahan said changes to Suntech's operations haven't affect MMA's partnership with the Chinese solar panel maker. MMA and Suntech formed a joint venture, called Gemini Solar Development, last year (see Suntech Buys EI Solutions, Teams Up with MMA).