UK subsidy-free solar momentum gathers as new names join familiar faces in the build phase


Image: Lightsource BP.

The momentum behind subsidy-free, utility-scale solar developments in the UK has continued to gather, with new names and familiar faces alike demonstrating their commitment to the market.

Throughout 2019 a handful of major solar investors, including the likes of NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF) and Bluefield Solar Investment Fund, unveiled plans to amass subsidy-free solar portfolios in the UK.

The most advanced of these has been NESF, the prolific solar investor having announced the completion of two large-scale solar farms, their first in the UK without subsidy support. BSIF intend to not be far behind them, acquiring a handful of pipeline sites to pursue in the coming months.

This was quickly followed by European solar mainstay Lightsource BP, which in December 2019 heralded the return of large-scale solar build-outs to the UK by confirming to sister publication Solar Power Portal that it was eyeing up a 1GW pipeline of its own.

And this momentum has continued apace since the turn of the year, with both familiar faces and new names committing to building unsubsidised solar assets in this calendar year.

Earlier this month renewables asset manager Armstrong Capital, which brought forward more than 350MW of utility-scale solar in the UK under the now-defunct Renewables Obligation, penned a joint-venture with Danish investor European Energy to pursue a 500MW solar and storage pipeline spread throughout Great Britain.

They were quickly followed by both French developer Voltalia, which secured planning permission for a 40MW solar farm in Dorset on England’s south coast, and Elgin Energy, which yesterday completed another fundraise to help it chase a 250MW UK-based portfolio.  

Those familiar faces have been joined by Gresham House, an investment fund more commonly associated with grid-scale battery storage assets in the UK, which this week confirmed that solar assets were firmly in its crosshairs with the acquisition of an already-built 12MW solar farm brought to market by Anesco.

Wayne Cranstone, investment director at Gresham House, said the fund would continue to “actively expand” its ground-mounted solar and battery portfolio to meet “increasing demand” from investors seeking attractive returns.

The topic of subsidy-free solar developments in the UK and beyond will be a key topic of discussion at next week’s Solar Finance & Investment Europe conference, organised by PV Tech publisher Solar Media, which takes between 5 – 6 February at London’s Victoria Park Plaza.

More than 300 representatives 175+ companies will be in attendance. Limited tickets remain for the event, now in its seventh year, and more details on which can be found here.  

27 June 2023

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