Quercus buys Italian solar farms amid fundraising

The firm has partnered with Swiss Life to grow their joint renewables platform at a time when it is seeking capital for three different vehicles.

Quercus Assets Selection and Swiss Life Asset Managers have acquired two solar projects generating a combined 7.27MW in another go at consolidating Italy's fragmented solar market.

Antin Solar Investments, a portfolio company Quercus and Swiss Life bought last December, carried out the transaction. The assets are located in Italy's Molise region, with one project generating 6.5MW and the other producing 0.77MW. The investment brings ASI's total capacity to 84.4MW.

“As promised at closing the acquisition by Quercus and Swiss Life Asset Managers, we continue to build our track record for acquiring top-quality PV plants,” ASI chief executive Umberto Tamburino said in a statement. “This latest transaction is a statement of intent that evidences our goal to become one of the leading consolidators within the fragmented Italian market.”

Vito Gamberale, chair of  Quercus' parent company Quercus Investment Partners, told sister publication Low Carbon Energy Investor last October that Italy has around 18GW of installed solar capacity spread over half a million assets. The fund manager believes numerous valuable plants remain in the hands of developers and small-scale owners.

It is currently in the midst of raising a €150 million fund specifically focused on solar, along with a €150 million wind fund and a €200 million general European renewables vehicle.

In July, Quercus announced it had received a £13.6 million loan from Banco Santander to finance three solar farms in the UK.

Quercus isn't alone in trying to consolidate Italy's solar market. Last month, NextEnergy Capital reached a €150 million first close for its debut, Italy-focused renewables private equity fund. It had initially planned to list the vehicle on the London Stock Exchange.