Renewable Ventures said Monday it has raised roughly $200 million to finance commercial and government solar projects in the United States.
The San Francisco project developer has pegged a 2-megawatt project in Colorado as the first to be funded by this new Solar Fund V.
The company has changed its corporate profile ever since it told Greentech Media in January this year that it was raising Solar Fund V and had lined up most of the projects (see MMA Renewable Ventures to Raise Its Fifth Solar Fund).
At the time, the project developer was still owned by Baltimore, Md.-based Municipal Mortgage & Equity (MuniMae). MuniMae secures debt and equity financing for real estate companies and energy project developers. MuniMae said back then that it sold Renewable Ventures because raising capital became too difficult.
The company was later sold to Spain-based project developer Fotowatio (see Fotowatio Buys MMA Renewable Ventures). Fotowatio is a well-funded project developer eager to expand its presence in the U.S. market.
The company, founded in 2004, is owned by GE Energy Financial Services, Landon Group and Qualitas Venture Capital. Fotowatio has funded and owned 130 megawatts of solar projects in the United States and Europe, and has more than 1 gigawatt of photovoltaic and solar thermal power projects under development, the company said.
Being part of a larger project development company should able Renewable Ventures to secure more financing and projects down the road, particularly at a time when the credit crunch is still plaguing the industry.
Investors aren't completely tight-fisted, however. Borrego Solar, based in El Cajon, Calif., said Monday it has lined up $30 million from an existing investor to finance projects in the commercial and government sectors.
Foster City, Calif.-based SolarCity has announced two pots of money for funding residential and commercial projects this year, though the company has declined to disclose the amount. SunPower, based in San Jose, Calif., lined up $100 million from Wells Fargo to finance commercial and government projects (see Wells Fargo Plans for $100M Solar Financing).
All these companies, along with Renewable Ventures, use the money to install, own and operate solar power projects and sell resulting electricity back customers via long-term contracts. This way, the customers don't have to put up the expensive upfront costs of installing and maintaining systems.
By the end of 2008, the company was operating 40 megawatts of solar projects in the United States. MuniMae kept some of the small projects when it sold Renewable Ventures, however. The project developer now operates 35 megawatts, including the 14-megawatt system at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Solar Fund V includes loans from John Hancock and equity from Renewable Ventures and Wells Fargo. Renewable Ventures expects the fund to support 35 megawatts of projects over the next year.
The pot of money would be used to develop or buy projects ranging from 1 megawatt to 10 megawatt in generation capacity, Renewable Ventures said.
For the project in Colorado, Renewable Ventures said it will build the 2-megawatt system on 15 acres at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The system would be able to supply 10 percent of the campus' energy needs. Xcel Energy, the largest utility in Colorado, plans to buy the renewable energy credits from the project.
The project is scheduled for completion later this year.