By Jonathan Carmody
Blue Mountain Renewables (BMR) has signed a JV with New York’s Innova Capital Partners (ICP) to develop a portfolio of small solar assets in Colombia.
BMR is part of the Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and has developed renewable energy projects in Jamaica and Guatemala.
As part of the collaboration, Innova subsidiary, Innova Solar Colombia SAS (ISC) will structure and originate the solar assets within established criteria, while BMR will contribute capital to execute the project. The firms did not disclose specific targets on return criteria.
The assets will have a capacity of up to 500kW and between 5MW and 10MW.
“Solar generation, while evolving, is currently limited in Colombia vis a vis the country’s potential,” said Levy, CEO and president of BMR Energy. “There will be development of large-scale utility solar projects as the regulatory framework and infrastructure improves and possible auctions are defined – probably in the next couple of years,” he said.
However, impediments include a lack of transmission line capacity and infrastructure in remote regions, the existence of multiple electricity retailers that buy and sell electricity. The latter makes it hard to achieve strong margins and tax legislation, that, while offering a generous 10-year tax holiday, isn’t supported by the regulation to implement those policies.
According to Mukesh Prasad, managing partner of ICP, “there is regulatory clarity in Colombia for solar generation projects for commercial and industrial clients. That is currently our focus and why we have deployed capital and invested in strong team based in Colombia to capitalize on these opportunities.”
In fact, ISC is currently collaborating with Vatia S.A E.S. P (“Vatia”) to develop C&I assets in Colombia. “Solar energy is greatly needed in Colombia to diversify its energy matrix; thus, we believe it is important that as part of Vatia’s comprehensive value add to it clients, that we offer solar as part of our portfolio of services. We are very pleased to be working closely with ISC to offer this solution to our clients.” said Juan Ricardo Montalvo, President of Vatia.
BMR currently has Jamaican and Guatemalan renewable operations with a combined capacity of 41MW. It also has projects in development with a combined capacity of up to 250MW in Honduras, Dominican Republic, the US Virgin Islands and Haiti.
In September 2017, ICP entered into a JV with a French technology provider, Ciel & Terre, to develop floating solar projects in Colombia. With ICP subsidiary Innova Solar Colombia as the exclusive national local developer, the firm looks to provide supplementary energy generation by developing solar on manmade bodies of water such as reservoirs behind hydroelectric facilities.
Last month, ERCO Energía SAS (ERCO) – an EPC specialist joint-owned by ICP and public utility Empresas Públicas de Medellín’s (EPM) USD 40m Colombian investment fund Fondo de Capital Privado de Emprendimiento e Innovación SP (FCP) – built the 100kW PV floating solar plant on the reservoir of the El Peñol hydroelectric facility.
The pilot project will enable the partners to assess the technology’s application in other reservoirs in Colombia, according to Prasad.
Prasad told Inframation that the technology harnesses the water’s cooling effect on the solar project system and reduces the cost of land acquisition.
“We are very excited about the scalability of this technology in Colombia given the large number of reservoirs there. We are currently evaluating several opportunities where this technology is uniquely applicable and, in some cases, the only solution to generate energy in certain areas”, said Juan Fernando Higuita, senior associate at ISC.
About Innova Solar Colombia (ISC)
Innova Solar Colombia (ISC) is a developer, investor and provider of comprehensive solar energy solutions. ISC manages each of phases of the project, from the structuring, financing, engineering and installation of the solar systems to their operation and maintenance.
ISC develops and structures both utility size installations as well as distributed generation solutions to Commercial & Industrial (“C&I”) clients in Colombia. For more information, visit www.innovasolarcolombia.com/en/
BMR Energy LLC, a Virgin Group investment, engages in the development, acquisition, finance, construction, and operation of energy infrastructure throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and internationally. The company offers energy infrastructure solutions and services, which include early-stage/late-stage development and implementation, financial structuring and implementation, establishing relationships with energy equipment suppliers and constructors, equity investment, and asset management. For more information, visit https://bmrenergy.com/
About the Virgin Group
Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel & transportation, financial services, leisure & entertainment and health & wellness.
Operating since 1998, Colombian firm Vatia is dedicated to the generation and commercialization of electric energy for the domestic market. Vatia is headquartered in Santiago de Cali and has offices in Bogota, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla and Medellín and serves the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. The company owns five small hydroelectric plants with a total installed capacity of 13.750kW, and operates eight small hydroelectric plants with a total installed capacity 36.515kW. For more information, visit https://www.vatia.com.co/vatia.html