The deal has been hailed by GridServe as one of the UK’s most advanced solar farms heralding a new era of subsidy-free renewable energy.
Leapfrog Finance was supported by Lux Nova Partners to co-fund the landmark partnership between GridServe and Warrington Borough Council for the acquisition of two large scale solar farms in the UK once constructed by GridServe - a 34.7MWp hybrid solar farm plus 27MW lithium-ion battery storage system at a third-party owned site close to York and a 25.7MWp solar farm (and potentially to include a battery storage system) at a third-party owned site near Hull.
These pioneering projects, will supply 100% of the Council’s electricity cleanly and more cheaply than their current cost of energy, allow the Council to benefit from revenue maximisation through the use of the battery, and excess power will either be sold through the grid or ‘sleeved’ to other local authorities or businesses under a power purchase agreement generating millions of pounds of additional revenue every year to fund essential services and support economic regeneration in Warrington.
The technology is also ground-breaking for the UK, for the first time making use of bi-facial panels that generate electricity on both sides and utilising tilting and tracking technology. As a result the parks are expected to generate a power uplift of 20%. Needless to say the technology and supply chain and contractual remedies for late delivery and non-performance was a focus for due diligence.
The need to secure battery manufacturing slots placed considerable pressure on the timelines for the transaction, and incredibly the financing was brought together in only 7 weeks, which was testament to everyone’s experience in structuring complex transactions and the desire to make the project happen and show the market what was possible with bold thinking.
Another important feature of the transaction for enabling Leapfrog’s £11million of mezzanine financing was building into the transaction a long-term social impact framework with a comitted stream of annual payments to a community benefit fund to support local social and environmental projects and reduce fuel poverty in Warrington. The transaction is expected to generate over £2 million in community benefit payments over the life of the projects.
Claire Hanratty, CEO of Leapfrog has commented that “The knowledge and professionalism that Louisa brought to the deal was second-to-none, addressing project financing risks, the complexities of a commercial & local authority transaction and enabling Leapfrog to secure £2.25m in community benefit funds to help local people in the Warrington area. We are enormously proud to partner with Lux Nova.”