United Kingdom

Lightsource bp UK To Expand Solar Portfolio With £54.4m Funding Package

Lightsource bp UK will expand a solar portfolio of six solar parks with a total installed capacity of 23 Megawatts.

Lightsource Renewable Energy Limited (Lightsource) and Octopus Investments Limited (Octopus) have agreed the refinancing of a portfolio of six solar parks, with a total installed capacity of 23 Megawatts with help from The Royal Bank of Scotland Corporate & Institutional Banking (RBS CIB).  The £54.4m debt facility, which was co-funded with NIBC, includes £37.4m from RBS CIB.

Also known as solar farms or photovoltaic power stations, solar parks are large-scale photovoltaic systems that supply power into the UK national grid.  Lightsource, in partnership with Octopus, is the UK’s largest solar developer with in excess of 220 MW of solar power capacity in the UK across 250 sites and a strong pipeline of assets.  This latest transaction represents the most significant solar project financing in the UK to date.

Located at six different locations across the South East and West of England, the installations were accredited prior to 1 August 2011 and are unaffected by the on-going announcements and changes to the UK Feed in Tariff (FIT) regime1 (FIT looks to pay independent energy suppliers income for contributing energy into the UK national grid). The six solar parks refinanced are Wilburton (5.0MW), Howton (5.0MW), Hawton (4.9MW), Marston (4.5MW), Benbole (1.7MW) and Sandhill (1.9MW).

RBS CIB has a growing presence in the UK solar market, having funded in the region of 50MW to date.  This latest deal represents the third solar transaction that the division has completed in the last twelve months.  RBS CIB not only undertook the majority of the refinancing, but also provided agency, security trustee and account bank services.

Andrew Buglass, head of Energy, Structured Finance, RBS, said: “We are delighted to support this project which represents a significant deal for Royal Bank of Scotland, and further endorses the expertise of our team.  We have a pipeline of deals in the project finance UK solar space that we are currently working on.  While we continue to see refinancing opportunities under the Feed in Tariff regime the majority of current opportunities are larger scale projects under the Renewables Obligation.”

Nick Boyle, CEO of Lightsource, added: “We are delighted to have received this funding package from RBS and NIBC, which is another fantastic milestone for Lightsource and will hopefully lead to many more similar financings for our solar development portfolio.  Royal Bank of Scotland has proven to be an exceptional, supportive partner and we have appreciated its strong market knowledge and commitment.”

Matt Setchell, head of solar at Octopus, commented: “We look forward to continuing to partner with Lightsource, which has been our dedicated in-house solar development company for the last two years. RBS’ facility will enable us to continue to invest in solar on behalf of our investors and to deliver returns to them while continuing to support the UK solar market.”

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