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NextEnergy makes first investment from Italian solar fund

Further acquisitions from NextPower II, through which the firm aims to build a £1bn portfolio, are expected early next year.

UK investment manager NextEnergy Capital has sealed the first investments of its Italian solar fund launched earlier this year.

NextPower II has acquired six projects with a total capacity of 16.6MW from local developer Veronagest, which includes technology from Total-owned firm SunPower. They have all been operational for five years and were debt financed by Unicredit, Société Générale and Dexia Crediop.

The assets were developed during a wave of solar investments in Italy fuelled in part by government subsidies, culminating in a total of 9.3GW installed in 2011 and owned by thousands of investors and developers.

However, the Italian government’s drastic revisions to the subsidy regime in 2014 led to a halt in development at a time when many investors were still keen to acquire assets.

NextEnergy Capital launched NextPower II in June “to lead the consolidation of the Italian solar sector” and “drive an increased competitiveness” in the fragmented market.

The fund reached a first close on €150 million in June, following a pledge by Prudential, and is targeting a total of €500 million. Initial plans by NextEnergy Capital to list a Europe-focused vehicle, like its UK-based NextEnergy Solar Fund, were shelved due to market volatility in June 2015. NextPower II continues to pursue its objective of building a portfolio worth €1 billion in investment value.

“We expect to announce further acquisitions by NextPower II over the coming months,” said Aldo Beolchini, managing partner at NextEnergy.