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German insolvency could lead to sale of Oakland solar subsidiary

January 05, 2012|Bloomberg

Solar Millennium AG's insolvency administrator is seeking to sell parts or all of the German developer of sun-powered plants.

Volker Boehm of Schulze & Braun said today in a statement that it's seeking buyers for the company's 60 or so project units and stakes, including Oakland-based Solar Trust of America LLC, which is planning the world's biggest solar plant.

Solar Trust currently has multiple projects in development across the southwestern U.S., including the world's largest permitted solar power plant facility near Blythe, CA. The Blythe Solar Power Project will deliver 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of capacity to the California power grid. That is enough electricity to power approximately 300,000 single-family homes each year.

Solar Trust of America has 2,000 MW of projects in advanced stages of permitting at locations throughout California and Nevada.

Potential buyers have already approached Solar Millennium and initial talks have started, Boehm said in a phone interview. Boehm said he's "very optimistic" that projects can be divested. "The further developed a project is, the more attractive it is for potential buyers," he said.

Solar Millennium filed for insolvency on Dec. 21, citing slow progress in selling its 2.25-gigawatt U.S. project pipeline and failure to reach an agreement to bring in investors for its Ibersol project in Spain. Solar Trust is developing the 1- gigawatt facility in Blythe, California.

Talks with Solarhybrid AG, a Brilon, Germany-based renewable energy developer interested in acquiring Solar Millennium's U.S. projects, are continuing, Boehm said. He didn't want to name other potential buyers.

Solarhybrid is in talks with First Solar Inc., the biggest maker of thin-film panels, to supply the projects, Solarhybrid Chief Financial Officer Albert Klein said Dec. 22.

Initial talks with project partners of the Arenales solar- thermal plant in Spain "have been positive," he said.

Solar Millennium AG and Spanish builder Obrascon Huarte Lain SA in August sold 49% of the 50-megawatt project to a fund managed by Deutsche Bank AG's RREEF unit.

"It's of key importance that these advanced projects are continuing smoothly," Boehm said.

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