Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners (“Quinbrook”), a specialist global investment manager focused exclusively on the new infrastructure needed for the energy transition, announced that its consented 350 MW solar + battery storage project, located in Kent, UK (“Project Fortress”) has secured a 15-year Contract for Difference (“CfD”) in the latest auction round.
Project Fortress was the largest solar PV project to secure a CfD in round 4, which enabled a record amount of renewable energy to be secured through the biggest ever round of the UK government’s flagship auction scheme. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) confirmed that the fourth round of the CfD scheme has been the most successful ever, securing almost 11 GW across a range of clean technologies, helping to boost British energy security and independence with cleaner, more affordable and diverse energy produced in the UK.
Quinbrook expects construction of Project Fortress to commence by year end. Once operational, Project Fortress is expected to be the largest single site solar PV installation in the UK. The addition of battery storage to large scale solar generation at Project Fortress is designed to provide critical flexibility to improve energy security and reliability for the UK power grid and help continue the UK’s sustainable drive to Net Zero.
A Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (“NSIP”), Project Fortress was granted development consent by BEIS in May 2020. Project Fortress is forecast to generate enough renewable power each year to meet the power needs of c. 100,000 UK homes and to help reduce carbon emissions by 164,450 tonnes in its first year of operations alone. Project Fortress includes an extensive landscape and biodiversity management plan, designed in collaboration with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and the Environment Agency, that will add more than 3.5 km of native hedgerow screen planting across the site and seek to deliver a net gain of 65 percent in biodiversity.
Rory Quinlan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Quinbrook commented, "The award of a 15-year fully indexed CfD is a significant milestone and completes the first phase of our plan to sell the solar power generated by Project Fortress in multiple tranches, leveraging the benefit of the secure CfD revenues which offer significant capital protection with value upside. We will now look to contract the balance of the project’s supply capacity to a blend of corporate and utility customers over the coming months. We are advanced in our equipment procurement and expect to commence construction this year.”
Investment in Project Fortress continues the Quinbrook Founders’ 20+ year history of investment in UK renewables and grid support projects. Quinlan added: “The acute power price volatility and security of energy supply concerns we have seen in the UK these past twelve months highlight how critical new capacity investment in the UK will be to deliver the energy transition without further disruption. We plan for Project Fortress to play a material part in helping to improve energy independence for the UK.”
Quinbrook Focuses on UK ‘Net Zero’ Transition
In the UK, Quinbrook is focusing on opportunities arising from the accelerating energy transition to decarbonise the country’s power system by 2035. With more than 20 GW of ageing thermal plants being retired this decade, significant long-term capital investment in new renewables supply infrastructure, battery storage, smart grid and related businesses will be needed. Quinbrook views the need for new supply and grid support infrastructure as an opportunity to deliver measurable ESG impact from asset creation and optimisation which it considers fundamental to any ‘high impact’ focused investment thesis.