WELink sells off BSR-developed 61MW Swindon project after finalising long-term PPA

A digital render of the Swindon Solar Farm at the disused Wroughton airfield. Image: Science Museum Group.

WELink Energy has completed the sale of its 61MW Swindon Solar Farm, developed by partners British Solar Renewables, to investment management firm Rockfire Capital.

The project was constructed by BSR in the build-up to this year’s 1.3 ROC deadline and is expected to generate almost 60GWh of electricity each year. BSR used more than 230,000 panels from Chinese manufacturer Jetion, the same company it used for the Shotwick Solar Park that was recently accredited by Ofgem.

Swindon Solar Farm will also supply its generated electricity to a corporate off-taker in a similar fashion to the Shotwick project. Rockfire revealed that a 15-year power purchase agreement has been negotiated with a “major UK bank”.

While Rockfire could not answer questions on the identity of the bank, Solar Power Portal understands the offtaker to be HSBC, which will purchase the energy via a sleeving arrangement.

Rockfire has financed the acquisition using an innovative ‘cleantech bond’ product, claiming to be the country’s largest renewables mini-bond. It offered returns of 6% and attracted investment from Warrington, Newham and Thurrock Borough Councils.

Liam Kavanagh, founder and chief executive at Rockfire, said the acquisition would support the company’s plans to further expand into UK and European markets.

“Renewable energy assets not only offer investors attractive and reliable yields, but are also a way for them to invest in something which positively impacts the environment,” he added.

The Swindon Solar Farm, which is constructed on the disused Wroughton Airfield, was originally conceived by the Science Museum Group with Public Power Solutions, the latter of which worked extensively on the development of the site alongside BSR.

German EPC Belectric also had a part to play in the project’s lifeline before selling its interest to BSR in 2015.

In May Solar Power Portal revealed that BSR was to sell off the bulk of its assets, the majority of which were sold to Canadian investment fund Cubico Sustainable Investments, while other notable projects were picked up by BSR’s long-term partners Siem Capital.

The move has pre-empted a major play for the UK O&M market, with the company revealing that it intends to “significantly” expand its portfolio from the current 500MW.