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INTERVIEW - EFSI becomes solar leader in Italy, consolidation continues

Solar system in southern Italy. Author: Richard Allaway. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

January 11 (Renewables Now) - Through several recent transactions, EF Solare Italia SpA (EFSI) has climbed to the top in terms of solar power capacity ownership in Italy with a portfolio of close to 800 MW in 17 Italian regions.

In December, Italian utility Enel SpA (BIT:ENEL) announced it had sold its stake in EFSI, at the time owner of 410 MW of solar assets, to its partner in the solar joint venture -- Italian asset manager Fondi Italiani per le Infrastrutture, better known as F2i SGR. Since then, ESFI has acquired a feed-in tariff (FiT) backed solar portfolio of 34.4 MWp from iAM Capital Group Plc and Econergy, and a 6.1-MW plant in Valmontone. It has also added to its portfolio 340 MW of photovoltaic (PV) plants owned by F2i, including solar platform RTR, acquired by the firm earlier in 2018 from UK private equity group Terra Firma Capital Partners.

“The scenario of asset ownership in Italy has profoundly changed in 2018. Now there is a clear leader with more than 800 MWp, while other funds are fast approaching the 200-MWp range,” David Armanini, managing director of Milan-based independent advisory boutique Prothea, told Renewables Now.

Also in December, London-based renewable energy fund manager Glennmont Partners said it would sell to Tages Capital SGR SpA three solar parks in Italy with a combined capacity of 85.4 MW. With that Tages hit 309 MW of capacity, ranking as the second largest player in the country, according to the press release.

Independent solar power producer (IPP) Sonnedix Power Holdings, meanwhile, has reached 181 MW of operational capacity following the recent acquisition of 53 MW of ground and roof-mounted solar systems from Graziella Green Power SpA.

“The consolidation will continue to happen with aggregation of portfolios in the 15 MWp-30 MWp range,” Armanini added.

Prothea advised iAM Capital Group Plc and Econergy Group’s investment vehicle Integrated Energy Holdings on the sale of the 34.4-MWp portfolio to EFSI. Econergy, and the advisory firm, have actually been involved in the entire cycle of the transaction, starting with 11 separate M&A deals in 2011-2013, consolidated through a refinancing in 2016, and then an exit in 2018.

The consolidated portfolio comprises 11 companies and 31 solar plants, which have been producing power over an average of six years under Italy’s past FiT regime. The combined output is roughly 50 GWh per year.

“Prices in the secondary Italian solar energy market have appreciated steadily since the acquisition of our portfolio in 2016. After monitoring marketing trends, we decided to take advantage of favourable conditions to exit the investment with a solid return for our shareholders and co-investors,” said iAM Capital CEO Emanuel Arbib.

Prothea expects over 1 GWp of annual capacity additions in Italy in the medium term. “2019 will also see the beginning of the market parity. The market will then see a combination of consolidation and new installed capacity,” said Armanini.

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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