Export Development Canada has committed $72-million (U.S.) in financing for Canadian Solar Inc.'s participation in Dubai's massive Solar City project, as the federal corporation moves to expand its support for the country's growing clean-technology sector.
In two releases issued on Thursday, EDC announced its financing for Guelph, Ont.-based Canadian Solar – one of the world's largest solar-panel manufacturers – as well as a $6.5-million (Canadian) credit facility for Corvus Energy Inc., a Richmond, B.C., startup that makes lithium-ion batteries.
The Crown corporation issued a $500-million (U.S.) green bond this month, the proceeds of which are being used to finance a series of international transactions by Canadian clean-tech firms. The Liberal government has directed the EDC and the Business Development Bank of Canada to increase their efforts to support the sector, which is seen as critical to the country's ability to capitalize on the global transition to a lower-carbon economy.
"Supporting clean technologies is a strategic priority for EDC," Carl Burlock, an EDC senior vice-president, said in the Canadian Solar release. He said the company's participation in the Dubai project "is a testament to Canada's leading expertise in the clean-energy space."
Canadian Solar announced last month that it had supplied 268 megawatts of its Dymond solar-panel modules for the first phase of the 800-megawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which, when completed, will be the world's largest solar-energy facility. The consortium leading the project bid a record low price of 2.99 cents (U.S.) a kilowatt-hour for the electricity.
In the release, Canadian Solar chief executive Shawn Qu said the EDC financing would support the company's global growth.
"As Dubai diversifies its energy portfolio, our partnership will serve as an excellent example for future utility-scale solar projects in the region, and we are eager to contribute further to the energy-market growth in the Middle East," he said. Company officials were not available on Wednesday to comment on what portion of the project will be supplied by its Guelph facility.
While Canadian Solar is headquartered in Guelph and still has operations there, its top executives are based in China, where the company has its major manufacturing plants.
EDC's director for clean tech, Mark Senn, said the Crown corporation has a mandate to support Canadian companies in the global marketplace, including companies that have overseas operations. He said the Canadian Solar financing will help maintain the company's research, engineering and export-sales jobs at its Guelph facility. The solar panels themselves are produced elsewhere.
"There is employment in Guelph and our view – and what the company has been saying to us – is that the ability [of it] to get financing support from Canada as it relates to the Canadian benefits derived from the jobs in Canada is important to the company," Mr. Senn said in an interview.
"We're keen to do everything we can to add additional benefits to keep the employment here."
Given Canadian Solar's solid history, EDC did not consider that support to be a stretch, Mr. Senn said. But its financing of Corvus is part of the corporation's more recent strategy of financing startups that need support to expand their commercial operations.
"Corvus is a transaction that we probably would have have done two years ago," he said.
The B.C. firm develops and manufactures energy storage systems, including lithium-ion batteries, for hybrid and electric marine applications to help reduce fuel consumption and emissions. In a release, the company said the EDC financing will allow it to fulfill various export contracts, primarily for hybrid ferries in Europe.