UK investor Next Energy Solar Fund energised one of the UK's first subsidy-free solar farms last year (pictured) and has plans to complete more this year. Image: NESF.
The UK is witnessing an acceleration of its subsidy-free solar build out, just as the country’s pipeline of utility-scale projects observed a record month for additions.
Having experienced something of a pandemic-driven hiatus earlier this year, a number of solar developers in the UK have now returned to action, either bringing projects into advanced stages of planning or breaking ground.
Yesterday (30 September) Hive Energy, one of the developers behind the mammoth Cleve Hill Solar Farm project planned for the UK’s south-east coast, confirmed construction work had started on a 13MW subsidy-free solar park in Rugby, Warwickshire. That site is expected to complete by the end of the year and forms part of a wider portfolio of subsidy-free solar projects Hive is developing.
Meanwhile, fellow developer Elgin Energy was particularly busy in September, confirming it was to develop a 38MW solar array on the site of a former World War Two airfield in Northamptonshire having already formed a joint-venture with prolific solar investor Foresight Group to develop 200MW of subsidy-free PV.
Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF) also confirmed late last month that it had amassed a proprietary pipeline of grid-parity solar projects with a combined capacity in excess of 350MWp that it was now aiming to advance.
“The subsidy-free market in the UK is now with us,” John Rennocks, the investor’s chairman, said.
The flurry of activity also coincides with a notable uptick in new projects entering planning. Writing for UK sister publication Solar Power Portal, Solar Media head of market research Finlay Colville revealed that more than 1GW of new large-scale solar sites had entered the pipeline in September 2020, a new monthly record for capacity to enter planning.
This new capacity was spread across 28 sites and includes a prospective 350MW solar farm proposed by energy giant EDF.
The UK’s total solar pipeline now stands just shy of 12GW, around one-third of which has come to the fore in the last six months alone.
“This is massive on all counts, and something nobody saw coming 12 months ago,” Colville wrote.
The full details of all pipeline projects making up the 11.6GW pipeline in the UK can be accessed by subscribing to the UK Large-Scale Solar Farms: The Post-Subsidy Prospect List report, details of which are available on the link here.
Feb 16, 2021
This session will explore the ongoing opportunities in the battery storage market and look at what trends we expect to see develop in the near to mid-term future for the marketplace. We will also look at what challenges face developers in this space and best practice advice for delivering multiple successful projects. Speakers: Tony Gannon – Head of Project Management, Scottish Power Lauren Cook – Lead Storage Analyst, Solar Media
Jun 15 - Jun 16, 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.
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.