Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF) is preparing a big play in the UK’s secondary solar market and will chase an exclusive pipeline of projects with a capacity of 258MW.
The asset management firm has proposed to issue a further 250 million new ordinary shares and/or C shares through an initial placing and subsequent placing programme in order to fund the pursuit of the pipeline which, if completely acquired, would effectively double the size of Bluefield’s portfolio.
In a release earlier this week BSIF stated that its investment adviser had secured exclusivity agreements on the projects – located throughout England, Scotland and Wales – all of which qualify for subsidy support either through the ROC scheme or through FiTs for those under 5MW in size.
The company stated that acquiring all projects would cost it approximately £270 million, with other proceeds from the issue going towards repaying sums previously drawn down from an acquisition facility which it has used for short-term financing.
And Bluefield’s business could extend beyond its exclusive pipeline. It also disclosed that it was exploring a “large number of both primary and secondary project opportunities upon which it intends to enter exclusivity agreements, subject to securing availability of sufficient funding”.
The proposed issue is subject to shareholder approval and it has arranged an extraordinary general meeting on 17 November to discuss. Approval from 75% of votes cast is required for the issue to go ahead.
Finlay Colville, head of market intelligence at Solar Intelligence, said: “The portfolio would appear to be heavily weighted to large-scale 2014 Grace projects, given the project count and total MW size and suggesting that some of the largest grace projects may be heading to Bluefield. But there is still some good news for Bluefield’s competition with just 253MW being ring-fenced.”
“This leaves a significant pipeline of several hundred projects still, for others to add to their portfolios either before or after site builds are done in the next few months,” he added.
Should Bluefield take its portfolio past the 500MW mark it would seemingly place the investment fund on a more even footing with UK market leader Lightsource, which recently completed the passing on of 522MW of solar projects to its finance partner Octopus as part of a £400 million refinancing arrangement.
But as Colville notes, Lightsource is still some distance ahead. “To put the numbers in further context, Lightsource is currently sitting on a potential RO pipeline of projects almost twice this size, aside from any sites that Lightsource or Octopus may add that are being developed by others.”