Macquarie’s Green Investment Group reveals 8GW-strong solar development arm Cero Generation

Image: Andreas Gücklhorn (Unsplash).

Cero Generation, intended to be among the biggest solar development companies in Europe, has been launched by Australian giant Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG).

The new company has a portfolio of 8GW from 150 projects, as all of the investment companies’ existing sites are consolidated under the new brand. This includes sites across the UK, Italy, Spain, Poland, France and the Netherlands, and makes it one of the largest solar development companies in Europe according to GIG. 

The launch follows the creation of the GIG in 2017, when Macquarie purchased the UK government founded Green Investment Bank for £2.3 billion ($3.02 billion). Since then, its portfolio has grown substantially around the world, beginning operations in the US in 2018 as well as developing a sizeable portfolio of projects in Asia and Europe.

“In just two years, GIG created one of Europe’s largest solar development portfolios and assembled a world-class team of experts” said Nikolaj Harbo, CEO of Cero Generation.

“Our ambition is to continue on this phenomenal growth trajectory, transforming Cero into Europe’s leading solar energy company, and helping deliver the continent’s net-zero ambition.”

Utility scale, onsite generation and integrated storage

Cero Generation will develop utility scale solar, onsite generation and integrated storage, and work across the project lifecycle from development to operation.

“It’s a full service business within the solar space,” Edward Northam, head of GIG for the UK and Europe told PV Tech. “It’ll take projects from origination, through development, and construction and into operations. And it will just cover the whole sort of landscape of the solar market.”

This will include a strong focus on C&I projects such as GIG’s partnership with supermarket chain Tesco as well as utility scale development. Globally, GIG has signed 3GW of corporate PPA’s already, with a large proportion of that in Europe, and a lot more growth will happen in the area, Northam said.

Storage will also be “absolutely part of the strategy” added Northam, and as Cero Generation builds out solar projects it will start identifying those sites that will be collocated with storage solutions. This will happen on a case by case basis as the benefits of storage can be very site and regionally specific, he added.

Seizing the growing demand for solar generation

GIG has put together a team of over 40 energy experts lead by Harbo – who previously worked within GIG’s European development team – who are based across its current six markets.

“This is a journey we’ve been on for the last couple of years in recognition of the role that solar is going to play in the energy transition,” commented Northam.

With the increasing global focus on decarbonisation, the need to grow and expand solar capacity had created an exciting opportunity. A report from thinktank Ember last week for example, said the wind and solar must triple in order to meet Europe’s net neutrality target by 2050.

“Put simply solar needs to expand, installed capacity needs to accelerate and it needs to happen fast,” said Northam. “What we’re creating here is a business that will respond to both that challenge but also that opportunity there. I think it’s fundamental for this sort of business to be sort of single minded in its focus, so we are able to really respond in a dynamic and agile way to the challenges and the opportunities around development.”

GIG plans for Cero Generation to continue to grow beyond its current markets, with “ambitions to continue to grow the scale with a business, but also to expand its geographic focus around other sort of European markets, as those opportunities present themselves,” finished Northam.

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