Top UK solar investor hails arrival of subsidy-free PV viability in the country

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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).

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