Lightsource commits $193m to UK solar rooftop sector


Leading U.K. solar developer Lightsource has announced it is to commit more than £125 million ($193 million) towards expanding its solar rooftop division and pipeline as the company looks to reach 1 GW of operational U.K. solar assets.

The developer has deployed more than £1.5 billion ($2.32 billion) across the U.K. solar landscape in the past four years, and is keen to steer its heft, experience and funding towards a sector of the industry that many experts tip for growth over the coming years.

This latest pledge will see the development of 120 MW of rooftop solar PV in the U.K., focused largely on commercial buildings, schools, households and social housing. Further, Lightsource is calling for installer partnerships to assist the company in delivering its aims.

“Over the last few months, Lightsource has worked persistently to address the barriers to rooftop solar deployment,” said Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle. “The biggest breakthrough has been our mid-scale solar power purchase agreement (PPA), which is praised for its simplicity by end users and installers alike.

“This has enabled a significant pipeline to emerge and, therefore, we are able to affirm our commitment of £125 million, allocated specifically towards rooftop solar projects.”

Boyle added that, with the funding in place, productive relationships with British installers are now key if Lightsource hopes to realize its ambitions. “We are keen to seek out these partnerships and work with local supply chains,” said the CEO. “Thirty installer firms have already signed up with us, and I would like to see that double in the next couple of months.”

The call for installer partnerships will be reiterated at next month’s Ecobuild exhibition, held in London between March 3 and 5, where Lightsource will be inviting interested parties to meet with Boyle and the rest of the team to discuss opportunities.

Lightsource’s pledge to develop its rooftop portfolio follows hot on the heels from last week’s announcement by Conergy UK that it has created a dedicated rooftop division, designed to augment its presence in the U.K.’s rooftop sector, both residential and commercial.

With growth in the U.K. ground-mounted solar sector poised to slow a little this year – following the removal of the Renewable Obligation (RO) certificate subsidy scheme from April 1 – both government and the industry has been eager to supplant that sector’s success into the rooftop sector.

Hurdles relating to property ownership, long-term viability and FIT rates have remained a source of concern, but there does appear to be widespread belief that 2015 could see the beginning of sustained growth in the U.K.’s solar rooftop sector.

pv magazine will be reporting from Ecobuild next week, delivering breaking news and interviews with the key solar representatives at the show. The exhibition begins Tuesday March 3 and finishes on Thursday March 5.