Argentina shows strong potential for renewable energy investment opportunities
Source: Gowling WLG
In an effort to address its energy needs, Argentina has announced that it is looking to develop US$5 billion in renewable energy by 2018.
The key points from the April announcement of Argentina’s ambitious renewable energy program include:
• Renewable energy, as a share of power consumption, must rise to 8% by December 21, 2017 (from 1.8% currently).
• Growth of this scale requires between 2,000 and 3,000 MW of development.
• The country has set a target to increase its total renewable energy share to 20% by December 31, 2025 (approximately 10,000 MW and between US$15-20 billion of investment).
Such a program would normally be of tremendous interest to active participants in the renewable sector, including developers, financiers and contractors. Unfortunately, Argentina has been on the outside of international development and financing for the last 15 years.
Why Argentina is now a viable market for investment
Frozen out of international markets since 2001, Argentina is coming in from the cold. With the election of President Mauricio Macri at the end of 2015, it is attempting to create a more market-friendly environment for international development and financing.
Argentina’s reintegration with the international financial community is taking shape through its commitment to numerous financing and renewable energy activities. These activities should help to change global attitudes towards Argentina as a viable market for investment — particularly in relation to renewable energy.
Important achievements with respect to government financing include the following:
• Argentina recently completed a bond offering, initially set at US$15 billion and settling at US$16.5 billion, which attracted bids of approximately US$70 billion. Nearly 750 accounts placed a combined 2,000 orders for the four bond maturities offered under New York law.
• Given the oversubscription, Argentina was able to offer debt yields of 8% for 30-year bonds and 7.5% for 10-year debt. Such yields are considerably lower than other debt issuances by other emerging economies in Argentina’s peer group.
• Approximately two-thirds of the demand came from the U.S., while 25% flowed from European investors.
• In February, Argentina reached a US$4.7-billion agreement with its holdout creditors. In April, the U.S. District Court of Appeals in New York affirmed a prior ruling to lift an injunction that had barred Argentina from paying certain creditors.
• Argentina has lifted significant foreign exchange and tax restrictions and plans to lift the remaining restrictions on currency trading in the coming months.
Key aspects of Argentina’s renewable energy program
As part of this ambitious new program:
• Argentina will create a trust fund for renewable energy projects called FODER (as per its acronym in Spanish) to provide payment guarantees and project financing to proposed projects.
• A promotional tax regime has been created to support renewable energy development, consisting of a combination of tax exemptions, deductions, credits and accelerated capital cost depreciation.
In respect of the tendering process, it is worth noting that:
• A procurement call is expected to be issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mines in the near future offering power purchase agreements (PPAs), set to a minimum of 15 years, to prospective bidders.
• Award rules will be based on price and non-price criteria, including local content integration, CAPEX efficiency, time to COD, and amount of FODER financing requested.
• Large, unbundled power users (those with an average power demand greater than 300 KW) may opt out of the tendered PPAs and source renewable energy directly from developers – thus creating an alternative market for developers and equipment providers.
• The program applies to all investments in electric power generation, auto-generation and co-generation by using renewable energy sources throughout Argentina.
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