U.S. OPIC committed US$1.1B in financing to renewable energy sector in FY 2011, triple its commitments from previous year; projects generated ten-fold increase in MW from FY 2010

DURBAN, South Africa , December 2, 2011 (press release) –

  • More than one third of US Fast Start climate finance for FY2011;
  • Leveraged additional $2 billion of investment;
  • Ten-fold increase in MWs produced from renewable energy sources;
  • Nearly one million tons of CO2 avoided
Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), announced today at the UN Climate Change Conference that OPIC had committed $1.1 billion in financing to the renewable resources sector in Fiscal Year 2011, roughly tripling its commitments from the previous year. The OPIC commitments represented more than one third of all U.S. Government Fast Start climate financing for FY2011, which totaled $3.1 billion.

FY2011 was by every measurement and by a considerable margin OPIC’s most successful year in the renewable resources sector. OPIC financing supported economic growth in emerging markets, by leveraging more than $2 billion in additional financing for renewable resources projects; improved those markets’ access to electricity, by generating a ten-fold increase over FY2010 in megawatts generated from renewable energy sources in OPIC-supported projects, from 71MW to 728MW; and tripled the amount of CO2 emissions avoided by OPIC-supported projects, from 336,000 tons to 931,000 tons.

“Climate change has required every nation to reevaluate the way we use the planet’s natural resources and to find creative economic solutions so that all regions have the energy they need and the future we all want. OPIC’s success in FY2011 has shown it can be done, by mobilizing the innovation of the private sector to bring clean and sustainable energy to developing countries around the world” Ms Littlefield said. “This is what we call ‘renewing the future.’”

“The fact that OPIC’s renewable resources commitments have grown from $10 million in FY2008 to $1.1 billion in FY2011 demonstrates the vast scale of opportunity in the sector, which only stands to grow as more developing countries invite investment and more investors respond positively. We are very excited by the prospect of continuing this work in to 2012 and beyond,” Ms. Littlefield added.

OPIC’s intensive focus on renewable resources resulted in clean energy projects in nearly every emerging market – from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America, eastern Europe and the Middle East and North Africa – as well as a host of innovative new products designed to further catalyze U.S. investment in the sector. Those products will provide financing for projects involving energy efficiency improvements; lease financing through American renewable energy equipment vendors to reduce capital costs for end users; and political risk insurance to protect U.S. investors against changes in feed-in tariffs and the inability to utilize carbon credits.

Highlights of OPIC’s year in renewable resources include:
  • OPIC Board approval of nearly $500 million in financing for five new investment funds that could ultimately invest more than $1.5 billion in the renewable resources sectors of South and Southeast Asia and Africa, helping the fast-growing economies of the former to manage their environmental challenges, and the latter to enhance its farming sector;
  • the first political risk insurance contract for a Reduced Emissions and Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project that will protect 64,318 hectares of forest in Cambodia and sequester approximately 8.7 million metric tons of CO2eq;
  • expansion of an existing geothermal plant in Kenya that will double operating its capacity and add clean energy to the country’s electricity grid;
  • financing to develop 51 solar power plants in Thailand, a first-of-its-kind project will accelerate the growth of the solar industry in the country by financing a large number of solar plants together with local banks;
  • expansion of a sustainable biomass project in Liberia which harvests unproductive rubber trees and processes them into wood chips for energy production;
  • construction of the first wind power facility on St. Kitts, helping the island reduce its footprint and meet up to 30 percent of its energy demand;
  • development of a hydropower plant that will enable Georgia to responsibly tap more of its abundant hydropower capacity and thereby reduce its reliance on gas imports.
OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.

Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported nearly $200 billion of investment in over 4,000 projects, generated $74 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 275,000 American jobs.

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