Quercus begins ‘ambitious growth plan’ with 800MW Spanish solar buy

Chairman Diego Biasi says renewables market is a 'different ball game' now, as the manager eyes growth in southern Europe.

Renewables investment manager Quercus Real Assets has begun its “ambitious growth plan” with the acquisition of an 800MW solar portfolio in Spain.

The portfolio has been bought through a series of deals and comprises 12 projects ranging in size from 30MW to 125MW, Quercus chairman Diego Biasi told Infrastructure Investor. The assets are all in the development stage, with the first ready to build in Q3 this year.

The deals represents the start of what Quercus sees as “phase two” for the firm, which began investing in the sector in 2010 and sold its five European wind and solar funds to Italian manager Green Arrow Capital in October 2019.

“Renewables has become a slightly different ball game since the first phase,” Biasi explained. “An investment manager in the previous 10 years had to go to investors with a strategy. Now the market has changed. There are different players that have come into the market such as oil companies, utilities and industrial players and the scale has changed. You now need to scale up. In order to do that, you cannot go to investors with a strategy, you need to go with a pipeline.”

Quercus’s previous investments were centred on assets in Italy, Spain, the UK, Bulgaria and Romania, although Biasi has identified southern Europe broadly as the mainstay for this cycle of investment, in addition to the Spanish assets.

“There are other markets, especially for solar, in the southern Mediterranean belt from Portugal to Greece, which is an area becoming more and more active in terms of number of projects and players. That will be our focus,” he said.

The Spanish acquisition was funded by what Quercus described as a “Luxembourg affiliate”. And while Biasi declined to comment on fundraising details, he said that Quercus has secured the money, in a relatively short period of time, from investors for “a fundraising tool that we are finalising now”.

“We don’t know yet if this will be just for Spain or if we use the same vehicle for different jurisdictions. This is something we will decide as we go forward,” he added.

Following the 2019 sale to Green Arrow, the then-known Quercus Investment Partners merged in early 2020 with the Real Asset Group, a real asset advisory firm, becoming Quercus Real Assets.