US Solar Industry Gets Big Boost from Ex-Im Bank

The US solar industry is getting a boost from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) – it’s providing $75 million in long-term loans to export US-made solar panels to India. 

The loans go to India solar projects – giving them the help they need to buy US-made solar thin-film panels by First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) and Abound Solar.

Other US solar suppliers will also benefit, including SMA Solar Technology and General Cable Corp. 

Thanks to a Congressional mandate requiring the Ex-Im Bank to promote US solar manufacturers, $75 million of its $1.4 billion total has been approved for 2011 to support four solar projects in India. The Bank has another $500 million of India solar projects in the pipeline that will generate an estimated 315 MW of solar power.

Azure Power Rajasthan Pvt. Ltd. in New Delhi will receive a $16 million loan from the Ex-Im Bank to purchase First Solar panels for a 5 megawatt (MW) solar plant in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Punj Lloyd Solar Power Ltd will receive $9.2 million to purchase panels from Abound Solar – also for a 5 MW system in Rajasthan. 

These two solar plants will be among the first utility-scale solar plants in India under the National Solar Mission, which aims to develop over 20,000 MW of installed solar in India by 2022.

India also announced last year that it would add 35 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2015.

"We are working with U.S. exporters to make sure they have the competitive financing they need to participate in these important initiatives," says Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred Hochberg.

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

The repayment of Ex-Im’s 16.5-year loan is based on the cash flows generated by the sale of solar electricity to India’s utility. India is implemented a series of tariff subsidies, tax breaks and loans to companies building renewable energy plants.  

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