NPS-backed COPA fund makes second US solar buy

The Korean pension-led PE fund is teaming up with KEPCO, Korea’s state-owned utility, once again, this time adding three US solar assets to their joint portfolio.

KEPCO, Korea’s largest state-owned utility, has teamed up with the Corporate Partnership Fund (COPA Fund), a private equity vehicle backed by Korea’s National Pension Service,  to acquire three operating solar projects in the US with a combined generating capacity of 235MW.

The portfolio, which was developed by Canadian Solar’s fully-owned subsidiary Recurrent Energy and began commercial operation in 2016, comprises the 100MW Astoria I and the 75MW Astoria II solar projects, as well as the 60MW Barren Ridge project located in southern California.

Financial details about the transaction were not disclosed.

This is the third co-investment made by KEPCO and the COPA fund, a KEPCO spokesman told Infrastructure Investor. Last April, the pair acquired a 30MW solar asset in the US from the Carlyle Group. However, he declined to comment on the first joint transaction the two parties have completed.

The latest acquisition also marks KEPCO’s largest investment in the US solar market to date. “These high-quality solar assets are a strategic addition to our renewable energy holdings and will allow us to further diversify our generation portfolio,” said Bong-soo Ha, executive vice president and chief global business officer of KEPCO, adding that he expects the utility will continue to grow its presence in the “attractive US solar market”.

The Korean utility now owns an installed capacity of 79GW, 75 percent of which is located in Korea. As at end 2017, KEPCO is developing and operating 39 energy projects in 24 countries with a total power capacity of 25.1GW in overseas business.

Recurrent Energy, Canadian Solar’s US project development arm, has more than 4GW of solar projects under development in the market, according to its parent company.

“Traditional investors increasingly view utility-scale solar as a strategic investment, and this transaction with a global energy leader highlights that trend,” said Shawn Qu, chairman and chief executive of Canadian Solar.