Banking giant Wells Fargo deepens commitment to solar sector with strategic agreement

The United State’s fourth largest bank, Wells Fargo & Co., has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Baoding Tianwei Group Co., Ltd. (Tianwei), forging a relationship that could lead to the Chinese company developing and building solar power products in the US.

The agreement, a common first step in a business relationship involving a Chinese company, includes potential financial support for Hoku Corp., a subsidiary of Tianwei, based in Hawaii in the US.

Hoku’s subsidiary, Hoku Materials, Inc., is currently building a polysilicon manufacturing facility in Pocatello, Idaho. In addition, Hoku Solar, a subsidiary of Hoku, is also developing photovoltaic projects in the US.

A signing ceremony, held in conjunction with the visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao, was held in North Carolina on 18 January 2011, and was attended by representatives of both companies, along with Wang Chao, vice minister, China Ministry of Commerce; North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue; US Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina; US Rep. David Price of North Carolina; and US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez.

The specific financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

“Tianwei has been a leader in renewable energy, including solar and wind, for many years now,” said Ding Qiang, vice chairman and president of Tianwei. “We are excited by the potential opportunities in the United States. We are especially pleased to have Wells Fargo as our partner. Together, we will continue to bring more clean energy to life and create more jobs in the US.”

According to Sanjiv Sanghvi, head of Wells Fargo Global Banking, the financial services company is “better positioned than ever” to support the financing needs of overseas-based multinationals operating in the US.

“We are excited to have Tianwei as a partner and hope to be able to help the company develop its US businesses,” Sanghvi said.

Puon Penn, head of Wells Fargo’s National Cleantech Group, said the long-term value proposition of the US renewable energy market has been growing quickly in recent years and continues to improve.

“Wells Fargo continues to expand its commitment to the sector by providing relationship-oriented banking services and credit for many of the most-accomplished and innovative solar companies in the world,” Penn said.

To date, Wells Fargo has invested more than $480 million (€352.5 million) in solar projects. Since making its first project investment in 2006, Wells Fargo has deployed more than $2.8 billion (€2 billion) in project capital, including approximately $2.1 billion (€1.5 billion) of tax equity, into more than 250 renewable energy projects in the US.

The projects account for over 4,200 MW of new clean energy capacity across 25 states. Combined, these projects generate approximately 12 terawatt hours of electricity per year, which is enough clean, renewable energy to provide power to about 1 million American homes.

“These efforts help to diversify our country’s energy supply, create new jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transition to a cleaner, greener economy,” Penn said.

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