MANHASSET, N.Y. International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank Group, has made a $50 million equity investment along with a $25 million loan to Russian polysilicon producer Nitol Solar.
The funds will be used to help establish Nitol Solar's new production facilities in Usoliye Sibirskoye, a region in southeastern Siberia.
Polysilicon, a key material in solar cells, has been in short supply, and IFC said its investment would help alleviate the global shortage once production starts in mid-2009. Industry analysts estimate that the global polysilicon shortage could end as early as the end of the year as more capacity come online.
Nitol Solar's projected annual output of 3,700 tons equals about 9 percent of last year's global polysilicon supply.
"This project is an example of IFC's commitment to helping mid-tier companies become global players and of our strategy to support the growth of renewable energy," Somit Varma, an IFC director, said in a statement.
Nitol Solar manufactures key chemical components for the global photovoltaic industry. It focuses on several manufacturing steps such as trichlorosilane gas production and polycrystalline wafers used in solar cells.
Earlier this year, photovoltaic producer Suntech Power Holdings (Wuxi, China) acquired a minority stake in Nitol Solar with an investment of up to $100 million. Nitol also signed a multiyear agreement to supply Suntech with monthly volumes of polysilicon from 2009 to 2015.
Suntech has paid the first $33 million installment to Nitol Solar, which will allow it to speed construction of its new polysilicon plant. The new facility will utilize advanced polysilicon production equipment.
In 2004, the World Bank Group pledged to increase its financial support for renewable energy and energy efficiency by 20 percent annually through 2010.