International legal practice Osborne Clarke has advised leading renewable energy supplier Solarplicity, on a £160M investment by Dutch investors Maas Capital (part of the ABN AMRO Bank), which was secured thanks to support from Department for International Trade (DIT).
The investment will help Solarplicity fund solar panels to produce electricity for affordable housing across England and Wales. The scheme will see Solarplicity partner with social housing providers to install panels on their housing stock, creating a Community Energy Scheme where tenants benefit from long-term guaranteed discounts on their bills. Around 100,000 households will receive panels in the next 18 months, and 800,000 in the next five years.
The panels will be free to social housing tenants, reducing their energy bills by an average of £240 a year, saving up to £192 million in total, and providing 100% renewable electricity. The deal will also create over 1,000 new jobs to install and maintain the panels. Many of these jobs will go to veterans from the armed forces, as Solarplicity helps re-train them into new maintenance careers.
James Watson, Osborne Clarke Projects Partner, commented:
“We are proud to have worked with Solarplicity on this project; their rooftop business model demonstrates the development of the solar market and sophistication of revenues derived from the renewable energy market beyond traditional subsidy support.
This was a particularly interesting deal as our work also involved developing a bespoke document suite to provide for the roll-out of the business across interested housing authority and local authority energy partners.”
The investment was welcomed by International Trade Minister Greg Hands, who commented:
“After a record year for new foreign investment into the UK, this initial £160 million capital expenditure program will deliver massive benefits to some of the UK’s poorest households. As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business.”
David Elbourne, CEO, Solarplicity, commented:
“The announcement is a reflection of our exciting growth in the energy market, backed by international capital investment through DIT. Solarplicity is committed to reducing energy bills for both solar and non-solar customers. Equipping them with the latest smart technologies, and 100% renewable energy, they are guaranteed to save with our Fair Market Price.”
A cross-sector team worked on the transaction, led by Projects Partner James Watson with support from Senior Associate Amy Stray, Corporate Partner Matthew Bodfield and Associate Kate Robinson, Property Partner Shane Toal and Construction Associate Director Alexandra Gower. Associate Lucy Daniels advised on finance matters.
Solarplicity is a valued and long standing client of Osborne Clarke, which has acted for the company since 2014, in particular advising on a significant number of ground mount acquisitions. These include advising on the disposal of Solarplicity’s portfolio of ground and roof-mount assets worth in excess of £100 million.
Osborne Clarke has an established and well-respected position as one of the leading law firms advising on renewable energy projects and transactions. For over 20 years, it has helped clients to seize new opportunities and meet the challenges of making energy generation clean, affordable and secure. The combination of the team’s experience and understanding of the energy sector means they are regularly called upon to support businesses on all aspects of their commercial, regulatory, corporate, finance and construction legal needs.