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Astropower Is First Corporate Investor In Solar Equity Fund for Developing Nations

Submitted by: AstroPower, Inc.

Categories: Environment

Posted: Apr 11, 2001 – 12:00 AM EST


Commitment to the Solar Development Capital Fund Will Develop Sustainable Access to Electricity for Populations Not Connected to the Utility Grid.

Apr. 11 /CSRwire/ - AstroPower, Inc. (NASDAQ: APWR) announced today that it will invest in the Solar Development Capital (SDC) private equity fund. SDC is a 10-year $28.75 million fund that provides growth capital for solar businesses located in developing countries. AstroPower's participation marks the first corporate investment in SDC.

Even today, one-third of the world's population has no connection to the electric utility grid. These 2 billion people require local access to solar electric power products. The creation of this fund addresses an important obstacle to that growth by providing access to working capital for the typically small local businesses in those rural markets.

AstroPower is committed to expanding its off-grid business segment with
strategic and local partners who recognize the need to concurrently improve the quality of life in these developing countries. By offering affordable, income-generating solar products with financing, marketing and training services, AstroPower helps to create independent, productive communities.

Access to electricity, in turn, can benefit these communities in the following areas:
Health - Clinic lighting and refrigeration for life-saving vaccines.
Home - Lighting, home study and entertainment.
Education - Lighting for schools and computer long distance learning.
Water - Access to drinking water and water storage/crop irrigation.
Communications - Wireless charging and stand-alone telephones.
Income - Power for business operations and home businesses.
Community - Street lighting, small business support centers and jobs.

"We understand the unique challenges in rural markets. Our approach has always been locally driven," said Dr. Allen Barnett, President and CEO of AstroPower. "We have dedicated operations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America which enable us to meet the needs of local entrepreneurs and communities. We are playing an active role in SDC's market development initiatives."

"AstroPower's investment in SDC is extremely significant," said Brooks Browne, CEO of Solar Development Group (SDG), the parent organization of SDC. "The company has once again confirmed its position as a pioneer in the solar electric power industry by recognizing the role the SDC will play in rural market development. As the first private-sector-company to make a commitment in the SDC, AstroPower has already played a key part in the success of our organization."

"Partnering with SDC is a win - win situation for all involved," said Len Jornlin, AstroPower's Director of Rural Power. "We continue to build a network of local businesses, implementing partners, government officials and multilateral professionals to develop and sustain solar markets worldwide. SDC will play a vital role in developing the requisite private enterprise channel. We are proud to support its efforts."

SDC will make debt and equity investments ranging in size from $100,000 to $2 million in local PV companies, associated businesses, and financial institutions that provide consumer financing or leasing. SDC works in coordination with its counterpart, the non-profit Solar Development Foundation (SDF). SDF, an $11 million grant fund, provides business advisory and training services and pre-commercial funding in the range of $10,000 to $100,000 to local entrepreneurs. This financing is designed to help local companies prepare for large-scale private investment.

About Solar Development Group

Solar Development Capital and Solar Development Foundation are managed by Stichting Triodos PV Partners, a joint venture of Triodos Bank Group, Environmental Enterprises Assistance Fund, and Global Transition Consulting. Stichting Triodos PV Partners has collectively financed more than 65 emerging-market companies, and has provided technical or advisory expertise to more than 40 organizations.

About AstroPower

Headquartered in Newark, Delaware, AstroPower is the world's largest
independent manufacturer of solar electric power products, and one of the world's fastest growing solar electric power companies. AstroPower develops, manufactures, markets and sells PV solar cells, modules, panels and systems for generating solar electric power. Solar electric power systems provide a clean, renewable source of electricity in both off-grid and on-grid applications. In December 2000, AstroPower was added to the S&P SmallCap 600. In February 2001, AstroPower was ranked 39th on Business Week's Top 50 S&P Small Cap Company list for one and three-year performance.

For more information, please contact:

Trish Carrico
Phone: (302) 366-0400


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