Project Finance Deal of the Year, Solar Storm

04 May 2017

Simmons & Simmons wins Project Finance Deal of the Year at the IFLR Europe Awards 2017 for their contribution to ‘Solar Storm’.

Solar Storm was the working project name for an innovative PPP project, designed to create a Government-wide renewable energy framework to enable the Government to become more energy self-sufficient and utilise renewable energy generated on parts of the public estate. The fund was designed to reduce the cost of capital to deliver maximum value for the tax payer and public sector energy consumers.

The first pilot project was ambitious and was the UK’s largest solar generating station and one of the fastest ever to be constructed, utilising brownfield land on a secure military former airfield at RAF Lyneham. This was first developed by the forward thinking team at the Ministry of Defence. The Cabinet Office provided support to bring in the commercial delivery partner British Solar Renewables (as the project EPC) and owner. SIEM Industries provided the finance via British Solar Renewables.

Simmons advised the Cabinet Office, then the Ministry of Defence and finally British Solar Renewables to see the project through to its conclusion.

According to IFLR “The deal won because IFLR celebrates innovation and our panel was impressed by the degree of innovation in this project. It was a proof of concept to an entirely new PPP framework, channelling cross-border project financing into a previously unexplored area. It is a first-of-its-kind and sets a template that could unlock huge embedded value from public brownfield sites. The project also tackled significant unique structural and regulatory challenges”.

Steve McNab, head of environment at Simmons & Simmons and the lead partner for this project said he was “delighted that the hard work and innovative thinking demonstrated by the project team has been recognised by this prestigious award. Hopefully this will be a pathfinder and there will be many more large scale energy projects enhancing the value of the public estate and assisting our national energy security”.

Duncan Byatt who was one of the architects of the PPP programme at the Cabinet Office said that he is “delighted with the outcome which was well deserved. This was a ground breaking project developed on a working MOD base and which proved the wider PPP model could deliver good green projects on Government land. The pilot project is the largest PV farm in the UK and unlocks over £300,000 per annum for the MOD and £50,000 per annum for the local community for the operational life of the project”.

Angus Macdonald, MD at BSR at the time of delivery of the Lyneham project, said: “this was a tremendous team effort. There were a huge number of people working both on and off site to ensure this remarkable delivery and I am sure they will be delighted to know that, through the project, they have received this well-deserved accolade”.

Giles Frampton who at the time directed the construction operation for BSR remarked: “This is tremendous news and a just reward for the creative thinking from Steve and the team at Simmons & Simmons, whose efforts ensured that this flagship project was a success. At the peak we had around 1000 people on site, installing 269,000 solar modules, across 74 km of mounting frames with 1million km of string cables”.


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