200MW Boost to Pipeline of UK Solar Projects

Solar energy firm, Elgin Energy and the investment group, Foresight have formed a joint venture to develop 200MW of UK solar PV. They have revealed plans for six subsidy-free greenfield solar projects with a total generating capacity of 200MW across England, Wales, and Scotland as part of a new partnership. The aim is to deliver clean power capacity in support of the UK’s commitment to bring all greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050.

Foresight is a leading independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager which has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for more than 36 years.

£3.7 billion of the £6.5 billion of assets under Foresight’s management relates to renewable energy infrastructure. Foresight is currently managing more than 250 renewable generation assets globally with a total generating capacity of 2.5GW.

Its portfolio includes over 150 solar plants and it boasts more than 1.4GW of solar generation assets under management around the world.

Peter Bolton, director of Foresight, said that Elgin had a “strong track record” and that they were looking forward to building their relationship into the future. He explained that Foresight was looking to pursue opportunities for their investors that can “offer strong returns from de-risked structures”.

He said:

“We see solar PV enjoying a second phase of growth driven by continuing optimisation of assets and the ongoing reduction in the capital costs. The need to meet net zero targets and the potential reintroduction of government support will further encourage the deployment of utility scale solar”.

Elgin Energy is an international solar developer with over 3GW in development across the UK, Ireland, and Australia. The company delivers utility scale solar projects (20-100MW) from origination through the development process to energisation.

Its portfolio includes 62 UK-based projects in late-stage development, totalling over 2GW.

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Ronan Kilduff, managing director of Elgin Energy welcomed the agreement with Foresight saying that it was an “important partnership”.

He further commented:

This important partnership with Foresight, a leading player in the UK solar industry, further enhances Elgin Energy’s successful transition into a post-subsidy world – fulfilling our 2020 vision of delivering large-scale, unsubsidised projects to market.”

Following the UK government’s contentious decision to end subsidy support for new projects in 2016 the UK solar market slowed down to a large extent. However, more recently momentum has gathered behind subsidy-free, utility-scale solar developments in the UK. Throughout 2019 a handful of major solar investors, including companies such as NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF) and Bluefield Solar Investment Fund, unveiled plans to amass subsidy-free solar portfolios in the UK demonstrating their commitment to the UK market.

The drop in technology and development costs combined with the emergence of energy storage systems at the same time as demand has grown for clean power from large corporate customers has resulted in a growing pipeline of new solar farm projects that developers are confident can be built without subsidy support.

The steady decline of prices for battery storage has also begun to add value to renewables, making intermittent wind and solar increasingly competitive with traditional, “dispatchable” energy sources.

Earlier in 2020 this pipeline was given a further boost when the government decided to allow onshore wind and solar farms to compete for price support contracts and future clean power auctions, providing developers with another viable route to market for new projects. Foresight’s head of UK solar, Ricardo Pineiro, saw this as “encouraging and a step in the right direction”.

Solar photovoltaics are widely recognised as a tried and tested technology in the great race to reduce climate change as they are ready for distribution in the here and now and on a mass scale.

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