Inverter failures continue to plague JLEN asset performance

Inverter and string failures at a solar farm in Cornwall have continued to plague John Laing Environmental Assets’ (JLEN) performance nearly seven months after they were first reported.

In November 2016 JLEN confirmed that its Branden Solar Park in Bodmin, Cornwall, had suffered from various technical issues late last summer, mainly relating to inverters and string connectors.

As a result the 14.7MW site was hit by periods of unavailability and intermittent generation over the summer months, triggering JLEN to work with the EPC contractor and O&M provider to source and install replacements under warranty.

However in a trading update issued this morning JLEN confirmed that the problem had persisted long in to this year with replacement parts installed under warranty throughout April, May and June 2017.

JLEN revealed that the issues had resulted in “persistently lower than expected generation”, contributing towards the fund’s combined solar asset performance which slipped to 12% below budget for the year ended 31 March.

“The investment adviser has been discussing the issues with the relevant contractual parties and a programme to replace affected connectors at Branden during the lower generation winter period was completed in June 2017,” the firm said.

JLEN also noted that the cost of the replacement programme was mitigated “to some extent” by contractual protections, while business interruption insurance would cover lost generation where applicable.

Branden is one of the oldest solar assets within JLEN’s portfolio having been completed in June 2013 and accredited under 2 ROCs. JLEN acquired a majority stake in the farm in April 2015 prior to taking on the remaining 36% four months later.

Despite the issues, JLEN described its asset performance as “resilient” amidst lower than expected solar irradiation over the course of the year and Richard Morse, chairman at JLEN, said its acquisition pipelined remained healthy.

“We maintained our progressive dividend policy, paid dividends in line with our targets and have seen our NAV grow, helped by rising electricity prices,” he said.

JLEN also announced this morning its intention to raise up to £40 million to pay down a credit facility in order to pursue a pipeline of investment opportunities.