British investment group snaps up Queensland solar farms


London-headquartered solar energy developer Foresight Solar Fund said it had gained full managerial control over the Oakey 1 and Longreach solar farms after acquiring the remaining 51% stake in the assets from Chinese module maker and project developer Canadian Solar.

Foresight acquired a 49% interest in the two solar farms in 2017 but earlier this week the renewable-energy investor announced it had purchased the remaining 51% stake in the facilities. Financial details about the deal were not revealed but the original transaction, which included 100% ownership of the 70 MW Oakey 2 Solar Farm, was valued at $64 million.

The Longreach Solar Farm, in Queensland’s central west, and the Oakey 1 solar plant in the Darling Downs region in the state’s southeast, are fully operational and Foresight said full ownership provides the company with total managerial control over future optimisation initiatives.

Foresight said both solar farms operate under power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the Queensland government for the sale of electricity and large-scale generation certificates (LGCs). These are under a contract-for-difference structure for a 20-year period from the date of commissioning and deliver “a highly contracted revenue level of operational cash flows”.

Both Longreach and Oakey 1 come with senior debt facilities, including from the Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC), that expire in April and are expected to be refinanced in the first quarter of this year.

“This acquisition further strengthens the company’s international portfolio, while the highly contracted revenue profile of the assets will increase the predictability of the company’s portfolio cash flow generation in the medium and long-term,” the company said in a statement.

The purchase boosts Foresight’s Australian solar PV portfolio to 227 MW across four sites. The company also owns the 110 MW Bannerton Solar Farm, near Robinvale in Victoria.

Foresight said the Australian assets form part of the company’s international growth strategy, complementing 735 MW of ground-mounted solar installed in the UK and another 125 MW installed in Spain.

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