Bluefield Solar continues to flex purchasing power with six more sites

Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF) has continued to build its UK solar portfolio with the acquisition of six additional solar plants with a combined energy capacity of over 104MW. 

The latest purchases were funded by an amended and restated facility agreement provided by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Investec Bank, also announced yesterday, which has increased Bluefield's available funds from £50 million to £200 million.

The additional portfolio of sites includes four operational solar plants totaling 94.5MW acquired from Primrose Solar. The developments are Southwick Estate in Hampshire (48 MW), Littlebourne (17 MW) and Molehill (18MW) in Kent, and Pashley (11.5 MW) in East Sussex. The projects were all energised between November 2014 and March 2015 and are accredited for 1.4 ROCs.

The ‘Primrose Portfolio’ now makes up around a quarter of BSIF’s collection of sites and also benefit from power purchase agreements with fixed offtake prices until early 2018.

Mike Rand, a managing partner of Bluefield Partners, investment adviser to BSIF, said: “The acquisition of these high quality, operational assets from Primrose Solar represents a milestone in the expansion and diversification of BSIF’s solar portfolio. Adding these large scale assets to the portfolio gives BSIF greater potential for economies of scale as well as access to attractive fixed power prices to 2018.”

Giles Clark, chief executive of Primrose Solar, added: “We are pleased to have concluded this transaction with BSIF which is a very well respected company in the solar industry. They are all excellent sites with very good levels of sunlight and implement best practice in screening, landscaping and biodiversity benefits.”

In addition to its new working plants, BSIF has also contracted two <5MW new build projects; a 4.99 MW plant in Norfolk and a 4.98 MW plant in Gloucestershire. Both projects are expected to become operational before 31 March, meaning they will qualify for the 1.3 ROC grace period rate.

John Rennocks, chairman of BSIF, said: “This facility extension, together with the addition of a further 104.5MW of operational or under-construction plants, puts the company in a very strong position to deliver another good year of results. As we approach the peak spring and summer seasons, we will continue to selectively invest in further plants by utilising the remainder of the facility."

Solarcentury will act as EPC contractor for the two new sites and will also provide ongoing operation and maintenance of the plants under separate agreements. The latest deal continues Solarcentury’s work with BSIF after three 5MW Solarcentury projects were acquired in December. When combined with these sites, the total consideration for BSIF’s spate of deals totals £149 million, including transaction costs, debt costs and working capital.

The new sites bring the number of acquisitions made by BSIF to 68, with a capacity in excess of 383MW, and are part of a prospective pipeline of 258MWp announced by BSIF in October. The company has previously stated that acquiring all these projects would cost it £270 million, with the RBS credit facility now drawn for a total of approximately £139 million and total group borrowing at £153.3 million.