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OPIC Board Approves $150 Million for Solar Solution for Telecom Towers in India

September 28, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved $150 million in financing to expand the use of solar energy to power telecommunication towers in India, a project that will significantly reduce CO2 emissions and create jobs in both the United States and India.
Together with project sponsor Applied Solar Technologies (AST), tower companies in India are working to reduce their dependence on site-situated diesel powered generator sets, in part because tower operators in remote areas lack access to the electrical grid. The potential for higher fuel prices and mounting pressure to reduce CO2 emissions make the shift to renewable energy an important priority for the tower companies and cell operators generally. In recognition of their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, AST's two largest customers won prestigious awards for their focus on more sustainable operations.

AST will use the OPIC loan to supplement cellular towers’ diesel-powered generators with solar hybrid energy systems that use proprietary controllers to integrate and optimize usage through photovoltaic technology, electricity from the electric grid, a battery bank charged by solar panels, and existing generators. AST’s integrated power system ensures reliable power availability while minimizing energy costs and carbon emissions for tower operators.

“This project brings OPIC’s financing for renewable energy in India to more than $400 million approved in just the past year,” said OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield. “OPIC is proud to be supporting India’s impressive ambitions to shift to a less carbon-intensive economy.” 

The U.S. sponsors of the project are Vinod Agarwal; Bessemer Venture Partners Trust, a subsidiary of California-based Bessemer Venture Partners, which  manages more than $2 billion of venture capital invested in more than 130 companies worldwide; and Capricorn Libra Investment Group, a subsidiary of Capricorn Investment Group, LLC. Capricorn Investment Group is an independent investment firm that manages approximately $5 billion of capital on behalf of a small number of investors, including Jeff Skoll and the Skoll Foundation. Capricorn's investment process is grounded in comprehensive perspectives on long-term, global trends in energy, agriculture, transportation, healthcare and technology.