Mainstream Seeks Pension Funding for Renewable Projects in Chile

Feb 13, 2014 3:29 pm ET

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd., an Irish clean-energy developer, is looking to convince pension funds and insurance companies in Chile to help fund $2 billion of planned investments in the biggest copper-producing country.

“Institutional investors have been reluctant to invest in these technologies in Chile until now because the risk profile is still too high,” Jose Ignacio Escobar, Mainstream’s general manager in Chile, said in an interview in Santiago today. “We’re confident we’ll be able to attract funds from Chilean pension funds and insurance companies in the near future.”

As the Chilean government looks to renewable sources to provide at least 20 percent of electricity by 2025, Mainstream and partner Actis have secured $300 million for the construction of 592 megawatts of wind and solar projects that require $1.2 billion in investments.

Chilean power prices are among the highest in the region as conventional generation projects are delayed or halted amid environmental opposition. Local communities and environmental groups have blocked proposed projects of Colbun SA, Empresa Nacional de Electricidad SA and Brazil’s MPX Energia SA by seeking court injunctions, a trend that might deepen the power shortage by the end of the decade, the government has said.

New Partnerships

Escobar, who is also the executive vice president of the country’s renewable energy association, Acera, expects to have at least 600 megawatts of projects operating or in construction by 2016 and $2 billion invested by 2020, he said.

The company now has 33 megawatts in operation, with the $75 million Negrete wind farm recently commissioned. Mainstream plans to start work on 170 megawatts of projects between the second and fourth quarters this year.

Referring to the venture formed with Actis last year, he said: “We are confident that new partnerships of this nature will follow in the next years, enabling access to enough funding for the rest of our pipeline.”

--Editors: James Attwood, Stephen Cunningham