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NESF seals £30.5m solar swoop

The listed solar fund has picked up a further 28MW for its 467MW-strong portfolio while parent company NextEnergy Capital has also secured the refinancing of a recently bought portfolio in Italy.

London-listed NextEnergy Solar Fund has bought an additional six solar parks in the UK in deals worth a total of £30.5 million ($39.1 million; €35.9 million).

The acquired projects have a cumulative capacity of about 28MW and were connected to the grid before the end of last month.

Five of the plants each have a capacity of 4.99MW, with the slightly smaller sixth project generating 3MW. A raft of solar projects in the UK have been downsized to 4.99MW to ensure qualification for the Renewables Obligation subsidy for sites below 5MW, a scheme that has now closed but was open for a year longer than its counterpart for projects above 5MW. NESF confirmed the newly-acquired portfolio will be eligible for 1.2 Renewable Obligation Certificates.

The deal comes about 10 weeks after NESF revealed it was engaged “in advanced negotiations” for a pipeline of 197MW worth around £205 million. Following the latest deal, the fund said it expects to announce further acquisitions in due course and add to a portfolio now comprising 44 assets with a total 467MW capacity.

The fund’s investment manager, NextEnergy Capital, has also secured a €52 million refinancing of seven solar parks it bought in Italy in December with a capacity of 16.6MW. The firm retained the support of the three banks – Unicredit, Société Générale and Dexia Crediop – which aided the acquisition four months ago to hedge the interest rate risk and seal a new revolving credit facility for the holding company Sol.in.Build.

The seven sites were bought by NextEnergy Capital’s NextPower II vehicle, an unlisted fund supported by Prudential which reached a €150 million first close 10 months ago ahead of its €500 million target. Plans to initially list the fund in June 2015 were cancelled due to market volatility.