Pensions investor makes first play into UK ground-mount solar

Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PiP) has reached an agreement with Trina Solar to acquire a portfolio of six UK solar sites with a combined capacity of 30MW following the successful conclusion of each farm’s construction phase.

The initial tranche of the acquisition, by the PiP Multi-Strategy Infrastructure Fund (MSIF), is for three operational solar farms located in the Midlands grid-connected before the end of March 2016 in time for the 1.2 ROC deadline.

The deal, agreed for an undisclosed figure, will be completed once the remaining three sites located in Kent, Yorkshire and the Midlands are in operation, also expected to be prior to the end of March.

The deal marks the first investment by the infrastructure investment manager, established by pension schemes to allow them to make long-term investments in UK infrastructure, in ground-mount solar.

It previously provided significant funds to refinance rooftop solar assets across the England and Wales, most recently £20.3 million of debt capital to refinance almost 2,000 rooftop solar assets on behalf of the railways pension scheme, RPMI Railpen.

Ed Wilson, chief investment officer of PiP, said: “We are pleased to have been able to work with Trina Solar to structure and execute a transaction that provides our investors with the long term, inflation linked cash flows they are seeking to support their accrued pension payment obligations.”

PiP said it will look to use the scale of the current portfolio as a foundation for further carefully targeted acquisitions of similar assets.

It added that the combination of the ROC support scheme with conservative offtake arrangements and long term operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts provides investors with the opportunity to benefit from 20 years of inflation linked cash flows to help them meet their long-term pension obligations.

Mike Weston, chief executive of PiP, said: “This is the fourth investment made by the PiP team on behalf of UK pension scheme investors in the last six months. PiP has made huge progress towards its ultimate goal of providing UK pension schemes with a better way of investing into infrastructure.

“Last year PiP received FCA authorisation, launched the PiP Multi-Strategy Infrastructure Fund, grew the team to eight and added three new independent directors to its Board. This gives us a great foundation for the year ahead.”

Posted on Feb 14, 2017.

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