Clean electricity investors Next Energy Solar Fund have formed a £ 200 million storage partnership, its second with grid-scale battery engineers Eelpower.

Today’s deal doubles up on an existing £100 million venture between the pair.  The so-called JVP1 made its separate debut last year, in the form of a 50MW storage device now under construction in Fife.  That project is due to hook into the national grid before July 2023.

Ownership of what the financiers today term JVP2 will be split 75:25 in the fund’s favour.

Word of the day: “Anguilliform”

JVP2 is NESF’s vehicle, quarter-shared as from today with its anguilliformed – nothing to do with the Caribbean island –  buddies.

Across both partnerships, the couple have thus pledged £300 million towards a pipeline ”under exclusivity” of future storage projects, measured at over 0.5GW and described this morning as “high-quality”.

Next Energy’s 0.865GW base of solar assets operated or under construction includes:

  • 100 operating PV sites in the UK and Italy
  • 260MWp of co-investments in Iberian solar projects, currently under construction
  • 36MWp at Whitecross, Lincolnshire under construction
  • 50MWp ready-to-build at Hatherden, Hampshire
  • a 6MW battery project co-located at North Norfolk Solar Farm

The PV and battery plays are among group assets valued without audit at £1.2 billion as of June.

Reflecting investors’ surging enthusiasm for grid-scale batteries, NESF will now seek shareholders permission, via its investment advisors NextEnergy Capital, to lift an existing ceiling capping its investment in batteries to 10% of its asset portfolio.

Majoring hitherto on generation, particularly solar PV, the group’s remit permits 30% of its plays to be made outside the UK in OECD countries, and 15% made in other private funds focused on solar infrastructure.

NextEnergy Solar characterises Eelpower Energy as “the leading specialist in the UK battery market”.  Today’s announcement to investors credits Eelpower as managing some of the highest-earning storage assets in the UK.

Jellied good show

Since launching in 2017 under the chairmanship of Stephen Partridge-Hicks, Eelpower have built out England’s biggest hydropower sites this century, pioneering behind-the-meter battery storage linked to water generation and to industrial consumers.

In February Eelpower signed a three-year deal for battery optimisation with Habitat Energy, covering construction of two large amp accommodations Habitat had contracted with SUSI Partners, a Swiss infrastructure fund.

Hailing today’s deal, group CEO  Michael Bonte-Friedheim enthused: “The new joint venture partnership builds on the successful relationship with the Eelpower team and enhances NESF’s position as a key player in the battery storage sector.

“Securing an exclusive pipeline of over 500MW of battery storage opportunities is incredibly exciting”, the CEO went on.  “It will further enhance the UK’s energy independence once energised and grid-connected.

By lunchtime, the LSE had ticked Next Energy Solar Fund’s shares 0.3% higher, valuing it at just short of £700 million.


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