Investors Next Energy Solar Fund and Bluefield raise quarterly asset valuations

The attractions of solar power as an investment class are again in evidence this morning, with two specialist funds showing strong growth in asset values ​​and returns.

NextEnergy Solar Fund and Bluefield Solar Income Fund are today separately reporting to LSE followers quarterly increases in net asset value of 8.2% and 10% respectively, both on an unaudited basis.

Founded in 2007, Next Energy Solar Fund (NESF) has amassed 865MW of generation assets across 100 solar projects primarily in the UK and Italy, along with battery and energy storage capacity of over 100 MW. Battery projects in its pipeline include the unbuilt remainder of a 250 MW joint venture with Eelpower.

At the end of June, unaudited valuations of NESF’s gross assets valued them at £1.198 billion.

The power sales office of parent company Next Energy Capital continues – in the words of today’s statement – ​​to “opportunistically obtain higher than expected power prices, in line with the sales strategy of electricity from NESF”.

NESF, listed on the LSE, is associated with two private funds:

  • Launched in December 2021, NextPower UK ESG invests in new UK solar projects without subsidy, benefiting from PPAs. The UK Infrastructure Bank is providing funding to the fund’s initial seed assets and plans to invest up to £250m, or half of the fund’s total target fund size, based on funding from consideration
  • NextPower III ESG focuses on international solar, primarily in the United States, Portugal, Spain, Chile, Poland and Italy.

As with NESF, Bluefield attributes its valuation rise to higher forecasts for power prices and higher inflation expectations. Both of these factors were partially offset, Bluefield says, by higher discount rates applied in the valuation, reflecting an increased proportion of non-solar assets in the portfolio and higher UK government rates.

On September 30, Bluefield will announce its audited annual results at the end of June 2022.

Attacks on solar farms by Tory leadership candidates last week drew sustained rebuttals from Britain’s solar leaders.

During six weeks of turmoil courting up to 160,000 Tory members, future Prime Minister Truss in particular repeatedly gave in to prejudice, attacking solar power for allegedly taking land out of food production and outlining the photovoltaic farms as “accessories”.

In a statement on Friday, SolarEnergy UK stressed that solar farms are not built on land classified as 3a and above on the government’s five-stage farmland classification.

“PM candidates continue to claim that solar farms are a threat to food security when the opposite is true,” the lobbyists proclaimed.

“One of the greatest risks to food security is climate change. This is evident from recent reports of how this year’s drought literally reduced the potato harvest. Solar farms combat climate change and thus help prevent it, and are frequently used to graze livestock at the same time.

Environmental benefits, including support for flora and fauna and increased biodiversity, add to the societal contribution of farms, the industry group added.

“Solar farms take up less land than golf courses, and by providing a steady stream of income they can help keep farming profitable,” he said.

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