UK so­lar fund looks to SA in­vestors

CityPress - - Business - JUSTIN BROWN justin.brown@city­

UK-based Fore­sight So­lar Fund is look­ing to raise about R500 mil­lion from lo­cal in­vestors as part of a £50 mil­lion (R796 mil­lion) cap­i­tal raise. The fund, which owns 18 so­lar power plants in the UK with an in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 470 megawatts, is al­ready listed on the Lon­don Stock Ex­change and is plan­ning to take up a sec­ondary list­ing on the JSE on April 3.

The cap­i­tal-rais­ing is a pri­vate place­ment and in­vestors need to put down at least R1 mil­lion to par­tic­i­pate.

Fore­sight So­lar, which has a mar­ket value of about R6 bil­lion, has no in­ter­est in any lo­cal re­new­able pro­jects.

Ri­cardo Pineiro, a Fore­sight So­lar part­ner, said dur­ing an in­vestor pre­sen­ta­tion this week that if the is­sues with Eskom’s re­fusal to sign new re­new­able power pur­chase agree­ments were re­solved, there could be op­por­tu­ni­ties for the fund in South Africa.

Pineiro said that the fund had con­sid­ered the JSE sec­ondary list­ing be­cause of the level of lo­cal in­ter­est and un­der­stand­ing of re­new­able en­ergy.

“There are lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties for South African in­vestors to di­rectly par­tic­i­pate in in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments in the UK and green as­sets in par­tic­u­lar. The JSE has no re­new­able en­ergy list­ings and the Fore­sight So­lar Fund will pro­vide an in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity for in­vestors,” he added.

“Lim­its re­strict South African in­vestors’ abil­ity to in­vest di­rectly into the UK. Feed­back from in­vestors is that a JSE list­ing would al­low di­rect ex­po­sure in the most ef­fi­cient way and on an un­re­stricted ba­sis.”

Pineiro said that the fund, which em­ploys 160 peo­ple, had a pipe­line of so­lar pro­jects that could pro­duce 250MW of power.

Fore­sight Group, which is the fund’s par­ent com­pany, has over 80 so­lar as­sets world­wide with an in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 900MW, which is val­ued at £1.3 bil­lion.

Jamie Richards, Fore­sight’s global head of in­fra­struc­ture, said that the to­tal UK so­lar­in­stalled ca­pac­ity was about 12GW out of to­tal UK power in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 100GW.

The UK has set a re­new­able tar­get of 15% of to­tal power by 2020.

Richards said that so­lar power on av­er­age pro­vided 2.5% to 3% of to­tal power gen­er­ated in the UK.

Do you think so­lar en­ergy would be a wise in­vest­ment?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word SO­LAR and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and province. SM­Ses cost R1.50

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