NextEnergy Capital a solar farm management group run by former Goldman Sachs banker Michael Bonte-Friedheim has announced ambitious plans to float its NextEnergy Solar Fund Ltd subsidiary on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the hope of raising £150 million (180 million) in funding for new solar PV projects in the U.K.
Boasting a solar PV portfolio of projects in Italy, South Africa and the U.K., NextEnergy's latest venture is intended to tap into the growing level of public and commercial support for solar in the U.K., which many consumers see as a sound long-term investment.
Despite government attempts to rein in the costs of adopting greater solar coverage across much of the country, Bonte-Friedheim believes that the industry now has a fair wind behind it, having won over its harshest skeptics the general public. "The U.K. solar market has come of age as an investment proposition, offering long-term stable returns with RPI linkage while helping the country achieve its renewable energy targets," Bonte-Friedheim said.
A statement from the NEC Group that owns NextEnergy Solar Fund revealed that it estimates the U.K. must invest more than £11 billion (13.3 billion) in the solar sector over the next few years if it is to achieve the government's aims of hitting its 2020 target to generate 15% of the country's power needs from renewable energy sources.
Projecting that first trading of the fund's shares will begin in March, NextEnergy Solar's U.K. MD, Abid Kazim, told BusinessGreen that the company was confident that there was enough room in the market and plenty of new projects coming forward for a second- and third-wave of funding.
"The solar sector in the U.K. is professionalizing, he said, "but at least £11 billion is required in solar to mobilize the target the government has set. Right now, if we look at the funds that have been launched, weve not made a dent in that, so theres a huge opportunity."
Since 2007, NEC Group has invested more than 150 million in 14 solar projects across the U.K. and Italy, and monitors more than 1,100 solar plants estimated to have assets valued at close to 4 billion.