Abu Dhabi’s Masdar is seeking project finance from Chinese banks for its 800MW solar project at Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.

It is aiming to finalise the banking group and terms for the transaction by the end of September, industry sources have told MEED.

Several local and European banks are also expected to participate, but the use of Chinese solar panels has allowed the developers to tap an extra pool of liquidity there.

The developer consortium is then due to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) in October with the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa). The project is expected to cost well over $1bn.

Masdar is originating the loan itself, rather than appointing banks to the role.

The four banks which supported the Masdar and its consortium partner, Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel for a record breaking project bid include Abu Dhabi’s First Gulf Bank and France’s Natixis, MEED reported in May. At the time, the term sheet pricing was thought to be fairly standard, but Masdar is now reportedly aiming for tighter pricing.

Dewa selected Masdar, Abdul Latif Jameel and Spain’s Fotovatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) as preferred bidder for the project in June, after they submitted a world-record low tariff of 3 cents a kilowatt hour ($c/kWh) for the independent power project (IPP).

FRV was acquired by Abdul Latif Jameel to form ALJ Energy and Environmental Services.

Masdar did not respond to a request for comments. ALJ Energy confirmed that the banking group was close to being finalised, but could not comment on other matters.

The solar photovoltaic scheme will be developed in three phases, with the full 800MW to be online in 2020. The 200MW first phase is planned to be commissioned by April 2018. The second phase will have a capacity of 300MW, which will be commissioned by April 2019. The final 300MW third phase will be commissioned by April 2020.

The PPA extends for 25 years.

In earlier independent power projects (IPPs), Dewa has taken a majority equity stake.

The coal-powered Hassyan IPP reached a financial close earlier in September. China’s Harbin International and the Silk Road Fund held a combined 22 per cent of equity, and while the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank, Agriculture Bank of China and Bank of China extended 78 per cent of the debt.