Investec Bank Provides First Construction Debt Finance Deal to Support Development of 19MW Project

The UK's fast-expanding solar farm industry has taken another step forwar as developer Lightsource Renewable Energy announced that it had closed the project financing for a new 19MW project in Kent.

The company said Investec Bank plc has agreed to provide a £14m term facility and £1m VAT facility to support the construction of the project, which will be completed under the current Renewable Obligation subsidy regime.

"This latest transaction is the first construction debt financing to be completed by Lightsource and follows on from a number of operational project refinancing transactions also completed with Investec in the last year," the company said in a statement.

The deal further underlines Investec's commitment to the UK solar sector, taking the total capacity of the projects it has supported to over 120MW. It also reinforces Lightsource's position as one of the UK's leading specialist solar developers, with over 316MW of operating solar power capacity now in place.

Paul McCartie, structured finance director of Lightsource, said the two companies were likely to continue to work together on future deals. "Investec continues to be an exceptional, supportive partner and following a series of successful transactions, we are looking forward to the growing the partnership through future deals," he said in a statement.

"We closed seven separate project financing transactions last year borrowing almost £200m in the process. It is clear that key to a lenders decision to enter into a financing process is the sponsors' ability to transact and their track record in closing financings, which Lightsource has demonstrated."

He added that with further projects and financing deals in the pipeline the company expected to raise between £200m and £300m again this year.

Olivier Fricot, head of power and renewables Lending at Investec, hinted that the bank was likely to be involved in future deals, stating that the company looked forward "to further supporting Lightsource in the realisation of their 2014 pipeline".

The latest project, known as the Sycamore Solar Farm, will be located in Old Romney in Kent and will be sited across 120 acres. It will feature 82,000 solar photovoltaic panels and is expected to provide enough power for over 6,600 local UK households.

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