NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF) has announced the signing of three separate share purchase agreements covering a total of 16.6MWp split among four operating plants and 59.8MWp in development projects.
The three operating solar plants acquired from one counterpart comprise Barnby (4.99MWp, Nottinghamshire), Bilsthorpe (4.99MWp, Nottinghamshire) and Wickfield (4.90MWp, Wiltshire). All three plants were connected to the grid during March 2017 and are expected to be accredited under the 1.2 Renewable Obligation Certificate (“ROC”) regulation.
The Birch CIC project, located in Essex, acquired from a separate counterpart, was grid connected in June 2015 and receives remuneration under the Feed-in-Tariff (“FiT”) regime. Birch CIC is located in Essex, in immediate proximity to NESF’s Birch Farm plant of 5.0MWp, acquired in October 2015. NESF has benefitted from the sharing of selected infrastructure components, such as the grid connection, between both plants. As part of the CIC’s obligations, a significant portion of the plant’s profitability will be reinvested in the local community. This obligation is in line with NESF’s ESG strategy to benefit the local communities in which it operates.
NESF also acquired a portfolio of four development projects totalling 59.8MWp from a further separate counterpart. The development projects acquired comprise entities having all the permissions in place to construct and connect solar plants to the grid. The acquisition of three of the four development projects was completed, while completion of the fourth is subject to confirmation of full planning permission. The acquisition value of the development portfolio is less than 0.25% of the Company’s net asset value. These assets, once constructed, will be remunerated without subsidies by selling the electricity generated into the market or via power purchase agreements with individual off-takers. The seller of the projects will work with NESF to extend the relevant project rights to maximise the time frame during which NESF can commence construction of the plants. NESF will initiate construction of each individual asset only once the financial returns are sufficiently attractive.
The Company’s investment advisor expects subsidy-free solar plants to become financially viable in the UK over the next 12- to 24-month period as investment values and operating costs continue to decline significantly. NextEnergy Capital is at present working with suppliers to drive investment values and operating costs down to sustainable levels.