Social investor Oikocredit , impact investor Triodos Investment Management and Guatemalan bank Grupo Financiero de Occidente (Fidosa) have teamed up to provide financing worth USD 8.20 million for two run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants in Guatemala.

Ixtal and Xolhuitz hydropower plants

Sponsored by Guatemalan firm Grupo Kin, the two small-scale hydropower plants, Ixtal and Xolhuitz, have a combined capacity of 3.8MW. Both plants will supply power to Guatemala’s national grid and can together produce enough electricity for 3,280 households. Ixtal and Xolhuitz will help reduce Guatemala’s carbon footprint: each MWh generated by the plants will on average save 0.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions compared to fossil fuels.

Renewable energy in emerging markets

David ten Kroode, Oikocredit’s renewable energy manager, said: "We are proud to support long-term access to clean energy in Guatemala. Oikocredit’s commitment to renewable energy is part of our triple bottom line of financing partner organizations that are financially sustainable, have a positive social impact and protect the environment. Hydropower is just one aspect of our team’s portfolio, which also includes solar, wind and biogas projects."

Gerrit-Jan Brunink, Senior Investment Manager for Energy and Climate at Triodos Investment Management, said: "After having been involved in several large and mid size renewable energy projects in emerging markets, we are particularly happy to also be able to serve small size run-of-the-river hydro power projects such as Ixtal and Xolhuitz in Guatemala. Projects of this magnitude provide clean and affordable energy, but often experience difficulties in attracting long term funding. Our close cooperation with Oikocredit and Fidosa in this transaction demonstrates it is possible to further unlock this market segment."

Monitoring the impact

When Oikocredit and Triodos Investment Management assessed Ixtal and Xolhuitz they paid particular attention to environmental and social criteria. Both plants are sited on the same river in areas used mainly for coffee farming and have provided employment for local people. Developer and operator Grupo Kin continues to foster strong links with local people and monitor environmental impact, reporting regularly to Guatemala’s Environmental and Natural Resources Ministry.

Maria Mercedes Alvarez, Fidosa’s syndications manager, said: "Fidosa has developed a relationship with Oikocredit and Triodos specifically for the co-financing of renewable energy projects with a positive social and environmental impact in Guatemala. Our experience has been extremely satisfactory thanks to the technical and professional expertise of our co-financers."

Jose Ricardo Chacon, CEO of Grupo Kin said: "It is gratifying to find support in and opportunities with Oikocredit and Triodos. Jointly with Fidosa, we have been able to strengthen our renewable energy projects through rigorous assessment of the environmental, technical and social aspects. This relationship will help us achieve better results.

In 2014, 52% of power produced in Guatemala came from renewable sources. Guatemala is committed to growing clean energy production and increased renewable capacity is expected to reduce electricity prices in the long-term.