Lightsource and Barclays agree US$115 million project refinancing deal

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UK developer Lightsource Renewable Energy and fund manager Octopus Investments have completed the refinancing of 76.4MW of solar farms.         

The £76 million (US$115.8 million) deal with Barclays also includes a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with utility npower.

The three projects in question – Abbots Ripton (24.7MW), Mingay Farm (19.3MW) and Ermine Street (32.4MW) – have all qualified for the renewable obligation (RO) scheme, the UK's main support regime for large-scale PV.

“The trust and support we have garnered in recent years from key financial institutions like Barclays has allowed us to grow and develop into the leading solar energy portfolio holder in the UK,” said Paul McCartie, structured finance director, Lightsource. “It is our ambition to achieve more than 1GW of installed capacity by March 2015, and refinancing is an essential component in helping us reach this important industry milestone. We look forward to working with Barclays in future on further financings.”

Barclays was the lead arranger on the deal and has now backed more than 200MW of UK solar in the past three years.

“Octopus and Lightsource are leading the way in the UK solar market so it is only natural that we would look to support them in achieving their ambitions,” said Neil Fleming, director of infrastructure and project finance, Barclays. “As a business, Barclays is a huge advocate of the UK market and is committed to assisting the transition to a low carbon economy and increasing the number of green jobs in the UK.”

Lightsource has set itself the target of passing the 1GW installed capacity landmark in the UK by the end of March. This deadline coincides with the closure of the RO scheme to projects over 5MW in size. From 1 April, these projects will only be able to apply for support through the competitive contracts for difference (CfD) scheme.

The results of the first CfD auction were announced last week with less than 72MW of solar being offered contracts. Two of the five projects are expected to reject their offers after bidding very low in expectation that the weighted average of accepted bids would drag up the price.

Lightsource was awarded a contract for a 14.67MW project in the auction.

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