Dealmakers: The lawyers brokering innovative storage deals

BY BEN COOK AND ROBERT MALTHOUSE

  • Energy lawyers advising on ground-breaking storage deals
  • UK, US and Australia seeing increasingly innovative transactions
  • Energy Storage Report profiles the lawyers brokering the deals

Teams of lawyers from firms such as Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Squire Patton Boggs and Wilson Sonsini have been instructed on some of the most innovative recent storage-related deals.

There have been a number of notable deals involving the acquisition of storage projects in the UK, while the US state of California has also been the scene of some significant power purchase agreements and tech deals.

In addition, Australia, which is one of the most thriving storage markets in the Asia-Pacific region, has also offered up some rich pickings for energy lawyers.

The rise of senior debt financing

In a recent high-profile cross-border deal, lawyers from Ashurst’s London and Tokyo offices advised Fuyo General Lease on its investment – alongside a number of other Japanese investors – in two UK battery storage projects. The Fuyo General Lease deal was particularly significant as it exemplifies a growing trend for battery storage projects in the UK to be financed via senior debt – senior debt, which is often issued in the form of senior notes or otherwise referred to as senior loans, is debt that takes priority over other unsecured or more ‘junior’ debt owed by the issuer. 

Another notable deal involved Herbert Smith advising Australian utility Synergy on the selection of contractor New HOrizons Ahead (NHOA) to build the 100MW / 200MWh battery energy storage system in Kwinana, Western Australia. As a region, Western Australia has been relatively slow on the uptake when it comes to utility-scale batteries, but it is anticipated that many similar deals will be completed in the near future.

Meanwhile, UK law firm Burges Salmon recently advised Green Investment Group (GIG) on a 40MW battery storage project in Essex, which included work on a route to market agreement for GIG. The project marks the first of seven utility-scale grid batteries planned by GIG across the UK that were purchased from developer Capbal last year.

So who are the legal hotshots who have been brokering these innovative storage deals? Energy Storage Report brings you a breakdown of six deals that have been finalised in recent months, highlighting the legal teams involved and the key players in those teams.

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Deal 1: UBS Asset Management provided financing for developer Global Energy Storage to acquire part of the Stargate Terminal in Europoort, Port of Rotterdam from commodity trader Gunvor Group.

Legal advisors: UBS Asset Management was advised by Clifford Chance

Key players: Amsterdam-based counsel David Woolmer led the Clifford Chance team. Woolmer’s areas of expertise include banking and structured finance, as well as project finance in the renewables sector. Woolmer joined the firm 20 years ago. Partner Liesbeth Buiter, who leads the firm’s Amsterdam real estate practice, also advised on the deal.

Other advisors: The Clifford Chance team included Amsterdam-based senior associates Amin Tamaddoni, Lotte De Bruin and Arwin Lok, associate Lisa Ye, lawyer Shaun Campbell and professional support lawyer Andrea Karkotis.

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Deal 2: Macquarie’s Green Investment Group acquired a 40MW battery storage project in Essex in the UK from developer Capbal as part of a seven-project development portfolio.

Legal advisors: Green Investment Group was advised by Burges Salmon

Key players: The Burges Salmon team was led by Bristol-based partners Ross Fairley and Camilla Usher-Clark. Fairley specialises in environmental and low carbon projects in the renewables sector. He joined the firm in 2004, after 13 years at Allen & Overy. Usher-Clark specialises in corporate matters, joint ventures, M&A and private equity. She joined the company as a trainee more than 20 years ago.

Other advisors: The Burges Salmon team also included Bristol-based associate Laura Sharples, director Alec Whiter, associate Shalini Jagmohan and senior associate Danny Perera.

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Deal 3: Fuyo General Lease reached financial close for the development of two 49.5MW battery energy storage projects in Tollgate and Cuxton in the UK. Fuyo General Lease jointly invested with Tess Engineering Co, Tokyo Century Corporation, Toshiba Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Systems Corporation (TMEIC) and Nippon Koei Co. In the context of this deal, Fuyo is a lender providing a secured senior facility which shall be used to fund the construction of the projects and which, upon reaching completion, shall become a term facility to fund operations. 

Legal advisors: Fuyo General Lease was advised by Ashurst

Key players: Ashurst London-based partner Antony Skinner led the team advising Fuyo General Lease. Skinner specialises in development, financing and M&A in the renewable and thermal power sectors. In 2015, he advised sponsors and funders in connection with the financing of 131 solar projects, representing 35% of installed ground-mounted solar capacity in the UK alone. He joined Ashurst in 2009. Real estate advice was provided by London-based Ashurst partner Jamie Chapman, who has particular expertise in real estate development work related to major infrastructure projects. Chapman joined Ashurst in 2007. Tax advice was provided by London-based Ashurst partner Paul Miller.

Other advisors: Ashurst’s team also included London-based senior associates Shingo Ito and Harriet Gray, Tokyo-based senior associate Peter Grayson, London-based associate Elle Hansen and London-based solicitor Ellie Conroy. Other members of the team included London-based counsels David Razzell and Charlie Reid, London-based consultant Alexander Brown, associate Joanna Fox, and solicitor Shayaan Bari Zaraq.

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Deal 4: US-based Clearway Energy Group signed three separate power purchase agreements with Clean Power Alliance, Peninsula Clean Energy, and PepsiCo for the entire output of its Arica 270MW solar and co-located 121MW battery energy storage project in California, US.

Legal advisors: Clearway Energy Group was advised by Wilson Sonsini

Key players: Seattle-based Wilson Sonsini partner Peter Mostow was part of the team advising Clearway. Mostow specialises in project development, and the purchase, sale and finance of renewable energy and clean technology companies. He joined the firm in 2007 after 13 years at Stoel Rives, a firm where he spent six years as a partner.

Other advisors: Wilson Sonsini’s team included Seattle-based associate Matthew Bogdan and senior counsel Heather Curlee, as well as San Francisco-based associate Karli McConnell.

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Deal 5: Developer Ameresco selected FlexGen to provide battery energy storage technology and software totalling 2.1GWh across three sites in Southern California in the US.

Legal advisors: FlexGen was advised by Squire Patton Boggs

Key players: Washington DC-based Squire Patton Boggs partner Kevin Levey led the team. Levey specialises in project development, project finance, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures and privatisations within the infrastructure sector. He joined the firm in 1998, after one year at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft as an associate.

Other advisors: Squire Patton Boggs’ team also included Washington DC-based associate Hannah Zapfe.

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Deal 6: Australian utility Synergy and the Australian government selected New HOrizons Ahead (NHOA) as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the 100MW / 200MWh battery energy storage system in Kwinana, Western Australia.

Legal advisors: Synergy was advised by Herbert Smith Freehills

Key players: Perth-based Herbert Smith Freehills partner Daniel Zador led the team. Zador specialises in energy, resources and infrastructure, advising both private and public sector clients. He joined the firm in 2002. Another of the firm’s Perth-based partners, Andrew McLean, advised on financing matters. Mclean specialises in advising lenders and sponsors on project finance deals in the energy, infrastructure and mining sectors.

Other advisors: Herbert Smith Freehills team also included Perth-based associate Yannis Vrodos and solicitor Sam Edwards.

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Image (clockwise from top left): Liesbeth Buiter (Clifford Chance), Camilla Usher-Clark (Burges Salmon), David Woolmer (Clifford Chance), Peter Mostow (Wilson Sonsini), Ross Fairley (Burges Salmon), Antony Skinner (Ashurst), Jamie Chapman (Ashurst), Kevin Levey (Squire Patton Boggs), Andrew McLean (Herbert Smith Freehills), and Daniel Zador (Herbert Smith Freehills).

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