Another utility-scale project has got underway in the UK, with a pair of German companies scheduled to install 17.3MW of solar PV eligible for current subsidy schemes which are due to expire at the end of March.
Athos Solar, which designs and constructs PV plants and Bejulo, which offers services ranging from development to technical operations, have broken ground on the unnamed facility, the second phase of a 34MW project. According to Athos Solar, the first phase is already grid-connected.
Using PV modules by Athos’ “project partner” Canadian Solar, SMA inverters and Schletter mounting systems. Construction is expected to take four months according to a listing on the Bejulo website.
Athos Solar said that despite difficult weather conditions and a tight schedule, the project is on track to be completed on schedule, which the company attributed to good preparation and planning in conjunction with relevant authorities.
The project joins the seemingly annual wave of UK PV plant construction efforts that take place in the run-up to the changes in support levels which take place each year. Reports of workers in muddy, cold and wet conditions emerge as March approaches, as in the UK, subsidy rates are secured at the time of grid-connection.
This year the “mad rush” appears to be particularly pronounced as the current support scheme for large-scale solar, Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), will finish at the end of the financial year. Questions still remain about the forthcoming Contracts for Difference (CfD), which will take over from ROCs as the main support for large-scale renewable energy projects.
Concerns over CfDs voiced by industry figures include criticism of the complicated application and appeal process, as well as fears that competition between various renewable energy technologies would favour onshore wind’s cheaper capital costs over solar. Having said that, the CfD scheme appears to be the object of interest of other countries’ governments, including Japan, which was confirmed to be talking to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) about it recently.