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Clifford Chance advises lenders on project financing for world's largest solar power project

4 January 2021

Clifford Chance advises lenders on project financing for world's largest solar power project

Leading international law firm Clifford Chance has advised the lenders on the landmark project financing of a 2GW solar power plant located in the Al Dhafra region of the UAE. Once constructed, the project will be the largest photovoltaic power project in the world to date.

The project was developed by Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) and awarded to a consortium led by EDF Renewables and Jinko Power HK, a subsidiary of Jinko Power Technology Co. Ltd (JinkoPower), who will together hold 40% of the project company, with the remaining 60% shared between their local partners, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) (40%) and Masdar (20%).

Clifford Chance advised the lenders to the project company, consisting of BNP Paribas, MUFG, Standard Chartered Bank, SMBC, Bank of China, CACIB and HSBC.

"The transaction highlights the commitment of international energy developers as well the financial industry to the development of clean power generation. We are pleased to have worked with the banks on this significant step towards the UAE's ambitious renewable energy goals,” said partners Robin Abraham and Richard Parris, who led the Clifford Chance team advising on the project.

Expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2022, the Al Dhafra plant will power approximately 160,000 households across the UAE and reduce Abu Dhabi’s CO2 emissions by more than 2.4 million metric tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing approximately 470,000 cars from the roads. Abu Dhabi is already home to the 1.2GW Noor Abu Dhabi plant which is currently the world’s largest operational single-project solar PV plant.

The highly competitive procurement process for the project is said to have contributed to the world-record tariff price for solar PV energy offered by EDF Renewables and JinkoPower of USD 1.35 cents / kWh on a levelised cost of electricity (LEC) basis. The price was subsequently reduced to USD 1.32 cents / kWh at closing (primarily as a result of hedging costs) and is also approximately 44% lower than the tariff set on the Noor Abu Dhabi project three years ago, an indication of how rapidly renewable energy costs are falling.

Key members of the multi-practice team at Clifford Chance advising on the project included:

  • Jeremy Barker (Senior Associate), Angad Chaturvedi (Senior Associate), Shamim Khan (Associate) and Mahmoud ElBanhawi (Trainee) on the finance documents aspects
  • Cheuk-Yin Cheung (Counsel) and Uzair Khan (Associate) on the hedging aspects
  • Inaamul Laher (Head of Construction, MENA), Anna Cornelius (Senior Associate) and Chris Shelton (Senior Associate) on the project documents aspects