Linklaters and Clifford Chance advise on the financing of the largest biomass power plant with grid injection in West Africa

Linklaters and Clifford Chance acted respectively as counsel to the lenders, Proparco and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), and to Biovéa Energie S.A. (and its shareholders EDF, Meridiam and Biokala), in connection with the structuring and financing of the Biovéa Project in the commune of Aboisso, 100 km east of Abidjan, in Côte d'Ivoire. Biovéa will be the largest power plant in West Africa to be powered by agricultural waste and will meet the renewable electricity needs of the equivalent of 1.7 million people per year. Under the terms of the financial agreements, Proparco and EAIF are providing €165 million in debt financing and €13 million in grants, corresponding to 77% of the full cost of the project, estimated at €232 million.

The financing has been granted to Biovea Energie S.A., which is responsible for the design, construction, operation and transfer of the 46 MW biomass power plant over a 25-year period. Biovea Energie S.A. is anincoporated company in Ivory Coast and is sponsored by EDF (Electricité De France), Meridiam and Biokala, a joint venture created by Meridiam and SIFCA, a major agro-industrial player in West Africa.

EAIF - a Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) company - is managed by Ninety-One. EAIF contribution to the deal is approximately €30 million of debt and PIDG Technical Assistance is providing a Viability Gap Funding grant of €8 million. Proparco is committing €140 million of blended financing made of €135 million at a concessional margin and a €5 million Viability Gap Funding grant.

The power plant will be supplied with approximately 450,000 tons of palm tree waste, provided by PalmCi, a subsidiary of SIFCA. The project will contribute to the creation of 500 local jobs during the construction period and more than 1000 jobs or full-time equivalent during the operation period. The biomass will be supplied by local small holder farmers and is expected to generate an average 20% increase in their income. 12,000 of them are currently in PalmCi's supply chain. Finally, it is estimated that the Biovea project will, in its operational phase, avoid the emission of approximately 340,000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

Linklaters' Energy & Infrastructure team was led by Partner Bertrand Andriani and Counsel Justin C. Faye, with Partner Pierre Guillot, Managing Associate Nathanaël Caillard and Junior Associate Youssef Berrada.

Clifford Chance advised Biovéa Energie S.A., EDF and Meridiam, with Delphine Siino Courtin, Partner, assisted by Hugues Martin-Sisteron, Senior Associate, and Corinne Duvnjak, Counsel.