Solar projects developer SunBorne Energy has joined hands with Europe-based IPP Eoxis Energy for executing a 15 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project being built in Gujarat, the company has said in a statement on Wednesday. This project marks Eoxis’ first investment in the country.

The project in which Eoxis has picked 49 per cent stake, is expected to be operational by December 2011 and falls under the solar programme of Gujarat.

The overall cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 225 crore, of which around Rs 140 crore will come from debt and the remaining Rs 70-80 crore will be shared almost equally by the two equity partners.

Backed by General Catalyst Partners and Khosla Ventures, SunBorne Energy Holdings LLC was set up in 2008 by a team of professionals to develop and operate solar power projects in India, mainly using solar thermal or CSP technology. Incidentally, IFC invested around $10 million in the solar power producer through a mix of debt and equity.

Eoxis is an independent power producer, focused on renewable energies with a global mandate. The company develops, invests in and operates renewable energy assets in several countries with a technology focus on solar and wind energy, as well as hydro and biomass. It currently owns and operates 30 MW of solar PV facilities in Spain.

“We believe that central and local governments in India are willing to continue to provide support for the development of this sector and that experienced operators like Eoxis are well placed to play an active role in the development of the industry,” said Laurence Mulliez, CEO of Eoxis.

In October this year, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), US government’s development finance institution which pools together private sector funds, has lent $150 million or around Rs 750 crore for a project to expand the use of solar energy to power telecommunication towers in India.

Solar energy is fast becoming a ‘sunrise’ sector in India and it has started attracting considerable interest from financial investors, as well as cross-border partnerships.

In June this year, IFC invested $4 million in Sapphire Industrial Infrastructures Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Moser Baer Clean Energy Ltd. Sapphire Industrial is constructing a 5 MW solar plant at Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu. IFC has also put money in three other solar power-related firms in India in the past two years, such as NDPL Solar and Azure Power.

Last year, Gurgaon-based SunBorne Energy, a specialist in utility-scale solar solutions, entered into an agreement with Chinese solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd where Suntech will supply SunBorne Energy with 100 MW of solar modules over the next two years. The agreement includes an initial order for 10 MW of solar panels for a project in Gujarat.

Among other initiatives, the diversified Yash Birla Group is likely to sign a joint venture agreement with a US-based company to set up and maintain solar power plants in India.

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