Lightsource teaming up with local installers to expand rooftop business in UK

Lightsource Renewable Energy — with an operating portfolio of more than 600 MWp, the U.K.’s largest producer of solar energy — is looking to expand its rooftop solar business.

The company has so far invested some £1.1billion into the U.K. solar industry, the lion’s share in large-scale ground-mounted projects, but that is now changing. Due in part to the shift in government support for solar, Lightsource says it is seeking to "deploy significantly more investment into rooftop installations" and is looking to build long-term relationships with rooftop installers who the company says will gain from its industry expertise, supply chain and funding.

Speaking to pv magazine, Lightsource business director Adam Oliver says, "Seeing the policy signals in late 2013, we acquired the business of Renewable Resources in March to form Lightsource Commercial Rooftops. We have spent several months developing our approach to the sector, getting our documentation, funding and commercial model right."

Oliver stresses that Lightsource has "strong interest in reaching terms with new installer partners on projects that will be a fraction of the size of the ground-mounted systems that form the bulk of our activity to date. Our hope is that installers will see the value in working with Lightsource as a funder and will bring to us good projects that they have already identified."

Oliver points out that "there is a specific funding gap in the 50 kWp – 250 kWp range, which we are addressing. One thing we can’t sacrifice is quality and we are particularly interested in installers who can demonstrate excellence in delivery and project management."

Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle adds that the company has often been approached by local installers asking how they can work with Lightsource, but it has in the past been restricted to partnering with large EPC contractors due to the size and scale of the group’s projects. "We have listened to the installer community and worked hard to source funding and the other elements to make our plans for high volume deployment in the rooftop market a reality."

Boyle says the company intends "to fund a significant roll-out of projects" and will work in partnership, giving installers access to Lightsource suppliers and products. "This builds on the successes of our large scale portfolio and at the same time supports local businesses and the economy."

Lightsource operates across the value chain, from development through the construction phase to owning and operating its own projects. The company says it can offer installation partners the assurance that "they will be working with a secure funder, have access to development support, tier one components and an expert team that already manages the largest portfolio of solar assets in the U.K."

"We believe we have found a way to unlock the huge potential of rooftop solar across the U.K. market and are committed to sharing this opportunity with quality local installers," Boyle adding that its nationwide partnerships "will drive the next wave of solar PV deployment in the U.K."

Commercial rooftop installations are nothing new for Lighsource, however. Oliver points out that the group has a "strong heritage in commercial rooftops, with 128 school installations, Bentley (5 MWp) and Promens (1.7 MWp) already in its portfolio.