GridX Africa Development to roll out solar and storage mini grid in Africa with funding from Ncondezi Energy

Lux Nova Partners are advising GridX Africa Development, a renewables private power developer, on their investment raise and alliance with Aim-listed Ncondezi Energy as selected lead investor. Investment financing from  both parties and potentially other third parties will enable GridX to develop out its initial portfolio of 15 mini-grid projects (over $20million in capex terms) that will deploy small-medium sized solar and battery storage solutions to serve commercial and industrial businesses across the African continent. 

Projects include those like the smaller solar mini-grid servicing the Singita Faru Faru Lodge in the Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania, with the integration of around 200kWp solar with 522kWh battery systems, replacing an average of 100,000 litres of diesel each year.  

GridX has identified significant market demand for cost effective and reliable power in the African commercial and industrial sectors, and solar and battery storage increasingly makes economic sense against traditional power generation such as diesel generators. Developers with design, finance and operate solutions like GridX are positioned to help expand the sector as demand continues to grow.

The partnership between Ncondezi and GridX complements Ncondezi’s existing presence in the Africa region and its desire to diversify its portfolio to focus on construction-ready captive solar and battery solutions in Africa.

Falling solar panel and battery costs are setting the foundation for a tide of disruptive technology in the African energy markets, allowing African countries to leapfrog to the next generation of sustainable energy supply.

“At the same time, significant investment appetite is growing in the sector as investors increasingly recognise smaller renewable captive generation projects as a source of steady returns,” Ncondezi nonexecutive chairperson Michael Haworth says.

To hear more about the projects, click here for an interview with GridX’s Hanno Pengilly.

Lux Nova advises Leapfrog Finance on ground-breaking subsidy free solar plus storage deal

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.

For further details, see Leapfrog’s and Gridserve’s press releases.

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.”


Mongoose acquires three co-located solar and battery storage plants from Anesco

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Storage technologies (including batteries) are the key to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy generation, due to the intermittent nature of most renewable energy sources.

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We have been involved in a number of battery storage transactions, including those at Drayton Manor Farm, a 75 acre site near Stratford-Upon Avon in Warwickshire.

We acted for Mongoose Energy, a leading asset manager, on what was, at the time, the UK’s first community energy deal involving co-located solar and battery storage (prior to Ofgem’s guidance), comprising acquisition from commercial developer Anesco (and related acquisition financing from Close Brothers and SASC) of three separate operational ground-mounted solar parks (aggregate 15MW) plus three co-located utility scale batteries.

Although we were acting for Mongoose, the transaction was part of the wider process to set up Heart of England Community Energy, the UK’s largest community energy company by assets, which owned the solar farms.

The transaction was Mongoose’s first foray into hybrid solar-battery projects. The battery systems were retrofitted following commissioning of each solar park. Importantly, the structuring of the grid sharing and metering arrangements had to be addressed, to allow the batteries and the solar parks, which were separately owned, to co-exist while using the same substation.

Our role was to conduct legal due diligence on all three sites, located on former Defra land.

We negotiated the SPA with the Sellers, including all related corporate documentation, and also negotiated the financing arrangements, including the senior and mezzanine debt facilities, and all related intercreditor arrangements. Separately, we worked on the long-term O&M contract with Anesco as well as the long-term asset management agreement.

The projects are set to deliver £3 million in local community benefits over the project lifetime. Mongoose Energy have since sold their asset management business to Bright Renewables, and we continue to work with the team (for which see our page dedicated to community energy).