Tools downed but UK solar summer sees flurry of finance activity

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Following yesterday’s news that the U.K. government – the still-functioning part, at least – will uphold the fifth carbon budget that requires the country to reduce its C02 emissions by 57% by 2032, there was a flurry of financing activity in the ground-mount solar sector.

Despite new installations tailing off sharply after Q1’s end, three large deals have been completed in recent days, most notably the acquisition by Cubico Sustainable Investments of 10 solar PV projects in the U.K. totaling 65 MW.

The plants have been purchased from British Solar Renewables and are located mostly in the southwest of England but also includes a Scottish solar farm located in County Angus.

Cubico, which is partly-owned by Santander, announced that it had closed financing on eight of the solar projects in the U.K. via funds provided by the National Australia Bank, with the remaining two set to close shortly. The overall debt required for the acquisition was ~$90 million.

Cubico now has 29 solar projects in its portfolio across eight countries, comprising 1.9 GW in total. For British Solar Renewables the opportunity to offload the projects to Cubico was an attractive one. "The sale of these completed projects enables us to recycle our capital and focus on developing out our 1.2 ROC pipeline of projects using our in-house EPC and ICP teams."

Santander U.K. was also involved in providing more than $16 million in financing to Quercus Assets Selection, which this week successfully debt-financed the purchase of three PV plants in England with a combined capacity of 21.3 MW. The plants were connected in May 2015 and thus were eligible to a more favorable ROC rate.

"We remain constantly focused on delivering clean energy to the U.K. customer through our local renewable energy plants," said Quercus CEO Diego Biasi. "We are very happy to partner with Santander and to have negotiated a vital and mutually beneficial deal to optimize our investors’ return on these three plants."

A third notable deal in recent days was struck by Primrose Solar, which refinanced the terms of its ownership rights of the 49 MW Eveley Solar Farm with Deutsche Bank. The solar farm, one of the world’s largest private-owned plants, was purchased from PS Renewables last year.