First Reserve in €276m Italian solar deal

First Reserve is backing what will be Europe's largest solar power plant in its first deal from its joint venture with SunEdison.

Energy-focused private equity giant First Reserve has acquired a photovoltaic power plant for €276 million from SunEdison, a provider of solar-energy services.

The 70 megawatt plant, located in Northeast Italy, was jointly developed and co-owned by SunEdison and Banco Santander prior to the sale, according to a statement.

The deal is the first to be struck under a joint venture launched in May whereby FRC would invest in current and new SunEdison projects. Together, the two firms provided an initial equity commitment of $167 million for the venture, which with additional debt financing, is expected to make investments in solar assets developed by SunEdison worth $825 million. The joint venture could ultimately invest up to $1.5 billion, if the firms choose to invest more capital, the two firms said in May.

Under the partnership, SunEdison, a minority investor in the venture, was responsible for identifying and

Solar energy: receiving a sunny
treatment from First Reserve.

developing energy-focused projects, with First Reserve providing the necessary capital for construction.

As part of the plant purchase, First Reserve has made an initial payment of €46 million, with the remainder to be paid upon the plant successfully connecting with the energy grid, expected to happen later this year.

Private asset managers Partners Group AG and Perennius Capital Partners SGR are also expected to co-invest in the project, the statement said.

SunEdison, which is the solar energy development division of MEMC Electronic Materials, will continue to manage the ongoing operations and maintenance of the plant.

When completed later this year, the 70-megawatt plant is expected to be the largest operating solar power plant in Europe, according to the statement. The plant is estimated to generate enough renewable energy to power approximately 16,500 homes in its first year of operation.