ITALY - Partners Group and Perennius Capital Partners have made a direct investment in Europe's largest solar power plant.

The Swiss-based private markets specialist and the Italian fund manager have entered into a joint venture with First Reserve Corporation, an energy infrastructure specialist, to gain exposure to a 71 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in northern Italy.

Partners Group has been very active in the infrastructure market, having acquired more than 17 assets since 2009 for its €500m infrastructure investment programme on behalf of a number of institutional investors.

The latest deal sees Partners Group and Perennius Capital Partners - of which Partners Group is a shareholder - invest in the plant alongside First Reserve, which acquired a majority interest from developer SunEdison in 2010.

Perennius Capital Partners was incorporated in July 2007 by a group of Italian sponsors in joint venture with Partners Group.

The fund manager invests on behalf of a number of Italian institutional investors, including insurance companies and pension funds.

Perennius said the investment represented "a very attractive risk-return profile", given the high visibility of cash flows and low exposure to electricity price movements and macroeconomic factors.

Michael Barben, partner and head private infrastructure at Partners Group, said: "We have long identified the rising need for environmentally friendly sources of energy and the potential offered by investments in this segment.

"This transaction highlights Partners Group's ability to source investment opportunities in line with our relative value approach, to utilise our local presence in separate geographies and to partner with other leading infrastructure managers."

The power plant is located in the Rovigo province of Italy and is currently the largest single operating solar power plant in Europe.

It was connected to the grid in November 2010 and sells power under the 2010 Italian feed-in tariff, providing high revenue stability for 20 years of operation.

The plant was developed by SunEdison, a leading worldwide solar energy services provider and a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials.

Partners Group's investment partner First Reserve has been investing in the energy industry for more than 28 years.