Image: Bluefield's existing Norfolk Solar Farm in the UK.
Top UK solar investor Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF) has hailed the advent of subsidy-free utility-scale solar in the UK, announcing a number of agreements to bring forward unsubsidised projects in the country.
BSIF, which is among the UK’s largest holders of built solar assets, confirmed late last week that it had entered into a “select number of agreements” and was now working through a viable pipeline of potential projects with its developer and contractor partners.
While some subsidy-free solar projects have already been built in the UK, most of the investment community had concluded that the market was still someway short of economic viability.
However that is now appearing to change, with BSIF joining the ranks of NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF) in committing to bringing forward unsubsidised, purely merchant solar farms in the UK.
NESF has already guided that it expects to complete its maiden subsidy-free solar farm later this year, with other projects expected to commence almost immediately afterwards.
'Much to look forward to' for UK subsidy-free players
Bluefield said the new market of subsidy-free solar is “well suited” to its approach of working alongside project developers and contractors, but would put far greater emphasis on its ability to manage power revenues in the absence of subsidy payments.
BSIF and NESF aside, PV Tech sister publication Solar Power Portal understands further developments of operational, subsidy-free solar farms in the UK could be forthcoming as early as next month.
Solar Media’s in-house market research team has previously forecasted that as much as 500MW of subsidy-free solar could be built this year as the pipeline of projects in planning exceeds the 5GW mark.
Bluefield’s announcement comes amidst an “excellent” performance of its existing portfolio in the year ended 30 June 2019, with profits rising more than 15% to £33 million (US$41 million) in the year.
John Rennocks, chairman at BSIF, said: "We are delighted to deliver another strong set of results for our shareholders. Record earnings support our highest ever dividend, value enhancement activities support our highest ever Net Asset Value and the arrival of the non-subsidised market looks set to offer a significant opportunity for the next phase of growth for the company. Much to be pleased about and much more to look forward to."
The prospects and challenges of European solar's new era will take centre stage at Solar Media's Solar Finance & Investment Europe (London, 5-6 February) and Large Scale Solar Europe 2020 (Lisbon, on 31 March-1 April 2020).
Dec 15, 2020 GMT
Hear from market leaders experienced with delivering the largest projects and portfolios in the UK. Understand the challenges they face bringing NSIP (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project) projects and multi-GW portfolios to shovel ready stage and hear their perspectives on the continued growth of UK solar and the construction boom expected over the next few years.
May 26 - May 27, 2021
Looking at the drivers and dynamics of utility scale solar in the UK & Ireland over the next five years. This event will consider the immediate challenges as we enter the build phase in both these markets where we could see as much as 4GW deployed in 2021 alone! What developments will continue the growth of 100MW+ sites and what impact will government policy have on the rate of deployment in both markets?Join leading developers and manufacturers shaping the direction of one of Europe’s most active markets and hear from speakers with a history of influencing innovation and change.
Mar 09 - Mar 11, 2021
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability. This event will be run online with streamed content and online networking.
Feb 03 - Feb 04, 2021
The business of solar is changing, as the industry scales up, technology, IT and new players to the market will add complexity. This sparks a host of opportunities such as co-location of solar and storage and the rise of unsubsidised solar projects as well as challenges which will question the very business model of European solar asset owners. Solar Finance & Investment Europe is the meeting place for institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, solar, wind and storage funds and large energy buyers to do business.