SunEdison outlines long-term commitment to UK solar market

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Global energy provider, SunEdison, has reaffirmed its support for the UK market, despite uncertainties over how future support arrangements for large-scale PV will play out.

Speaking to PV Tech at Solar Energy UK in Birmingham, England this week, SunEdison’s general manager for Europe, Alessandro Ceschiat, said the UK was still a “priority” for the company, describing it as the most “investor-friendly country in Europe”.

Ceschiat appeared sanguine over the prospect of the scrapping from next April of the renewable obligation support mechanism for projects over 5MW and the transition to the controversial contracts for difference (CfDs) regime.

He said SunEdison was “very confident on CfDs”, and the mechanism is a “realistic regulation” although it is “still unknown” how CfDs will affect solar deployment in the UK.

“We will use our judgement after the first round of CfDs, but it is a good way to drive down costs and we have a good understanding. We’ll see how the first round goes,” he said.

Nevertheless, the company appears to be spreading its bets in the UK by targeting several different market segments.

Earlier in the week Mark Babcock, vice president, of residential and commercial Europe for SunEdison, told PV Tech SunEdison was prioritising residential and commercial markets, but did not reveal any further details.

Ceschiat expanded on this, revealing that SunEdison would provide whatever solutions are needed to meet UK energy needs – be that utility, residential or distributed.

Ceschiat said the company “would like to be in touch with communities and their needs, with tailor-made solutions and support plans”, and providing “combined solutions”.

He said SunEdison was still in ongoing discussions for potential site locations in the UK, looking at “landscapes and local community energy needs”.

“We see a bright future for next year [in the UK] but we want a local presence – this is fundamental,” he added.

SunEdison has chosen to focus on the UK because “the UK government is very investor friendly, we like the UK as a market”, said Ceschiat: “The UK government ensures investments for long-term energy players.”

“Looking at the energy market, not just PV, and the UK has the most interesting energy market in the EU; there is huge electricity demand and it is growing. We want to be in this [market] long term, to help with UK energy dependence [on fossil fuels]. We want to be supporting the [low carbon] energy transition in the UK,” Ceschiat continued.

SunEdison has raised US$5 billion in finance for new projects “using UK and international banks, we will bring foreign investment with us. Banks love to be in the UK, it is the most investor friendly country in Europe”, Ceschiat said.

In the last 12 months SunEdison has installed 200MW in the UK and manages and operates a total of 250MW in the UK. “We are pushing quite hard in the UK, we truly believe in the country and are aiming for 70MW this year,” Ceschiat said.

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