Bluefield Solar Income Fund is celebrating a jump in earnings in a year that also saw an increase in debt and a drop in share price.
The company recorded underlying earnings pre amortisation of debt of £48.6 million, rising from £44.6 million in 2019/20, with a total operating income of £25,921,639.
Bluefield’s total outstanding debt during the period also rose to c.£340.4 million, however, with its leverage level standing at c.37% of gross asset value (GAV), which it said was in line with the range previously outlined as desirable of between 35% and 45%. This followed a series of acquisitions as well as an equity raise of £105.1 million.
Meanwhile, the company’s share price declined from 134.5p at 30 June 2020 to 121.4p at 30 June 2021, with this largely due to a de-rating of the renewable generation sector following heavy issuance. Since June the share price has recovered marginally, Bluefield said.
The company also recorded a net asset value (NAV) of £471.4 million, an increase on the £433.5 million from the year before.
“We are pleased with the strong earnings performance in the period despite covering a particularly challenging time for the energy markets due to the turbulence caused by COVID-19,” John Rennocks, chairman of Bluefield Solar, said. He added that the NAV “held up well” which the company believes will support the share price going forward.
Bluefield's operational portfolio now consists of 106 PV plants with a total capacity of 613MWp. Its total pipeline now stands at 593MWp of solar, with 81MWp currently in planning and a further 254MWp close to submission and 179MWp of battery projects, of which a co-located 19MWp project is in planning.
The company achieved planning consent for a 50MWp PV plant in November 2020, the Yelertoft Solar Farm in Northamptonshire.
Bluefield also acquired a portfolio of 15 UK ground-mounted operating PV assets totalling 64.2MWp and a single 70MWp asset – the Bradenstoke Solar Farm – during the year for a combined value of £195.6 million.
Additionally, it announced the purchase of the rights and associated land to build 45MWp of solar and a co-located 25MWp battery project for approximately £5 million from EQUANS, which recently rebranded from ENGIE Renewables. This project is expected to begin construction in 2022.
Bluefield said that its flexible power purchase agreement (PPA) strategy has meant it was able to manage the timing of power price fixes to avoid the lows in April 2020 before fixing selected asset tranches to take advantage of rising power prices in the second half of 2020 and first half of 2021.
As such, the average contracted price for the portfolio per MWh for contracts starting post 30 June 2021 of £61.7/MWh is considerably higher than for the twelve-month period to 30 June 2021 of £48.20/MWh (vs. day ahead base load price of £58.02/MWh for the same period).