UK investor eyes rooftops to mitigate solar farm cuts

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UK renewables investor, The Renewable Energy Infrastructure Group (TRIG) has said it will increase its attention on rooftop solar due to cuts in funding for solar farms.

TRIG said in its interim statement: “A shift in volume of new delivered capacity towards smaller-scale and rooftop projects is likely” due to the new UK Government Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, replacing Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs).

As of 31 March next year, any UK solar projects above 5MW in capacity will be refused grid connection and unable to qualify for ROCs, competing instead for a limited renewables budget under CfDs.

The commercial rooftop segment underperforms in the UK but both the industry and government are increasing their focus on the sector.

TRIG said although large-scale, ground-mounted solar projects could be successful in securing funding from the CfD programme, the competition and limited budget will cause the investor to prefer to seek out rooftop solar projects.

TRIG will continue to further onshore wind projects however, which are still expected to qualify for ROCs up to March 2017.

TRIG is also considering new fund raising plans and further acquisitions; currently the investor is in exclusive and advanced discussions to acquire further investments in several projects; monitoring changes in Ireland and France’s electricity markets for new opportunities.

TRIG investment manager, InfraRed Capital Partners, has said it will continue to evaluate new investment opportunities from its pipeline of opportunities in onshore wind and solar PV for diversification of its portfolio.

The statement is based on data from 1 July this year. Since July TRIG has acquired three PV solar plants – doubling TRIGs solar capacity to 119MW

The three solar plants are large-scale, ground-mounted and fully operational, acquired 100% by TRIG this quarter.

The new acquisitions are on agricultural sites in the South and East of England with a total generating capacity of 56.6MW, according to performance adjustments, the projects will be acquired for £73.7 million. All three projects have received ROC accreditation at 1.6 ROCs per MWh.

The acquisitions were funded by the Group's cash resources and a revolving acquisition facility. TRIG now has 27 projects totalling approximately 398MW, and doubling TRIG's solar PV capacity to 119MW, which now represents 39% of its portfolio value.

In the third quarter, TRIG’s solar plants performed strongly helping to mitigate variability from its wind farms.

Since July TRIG has also raised £38.6 billion in equity and is looking to expand its investment pipeline, continuing to diversify its portfolio, and has also paid out its first interim dividend to shareholders at £0.03 per share, for the six month period up till June this year.

The second interim dividend payment target, for the six month period up to December 2014, is £0.038 per share.

Richard Crawford, director, infrastructure of InfraRed Capital Partners, said: “Looking ahead, we are well-positioned to source further projects for TRIG from a range of suitable opportunities in the onshore wind and solar PV segments.”

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