Foresight Solar Fund acquires 34 MW of UK PV assets


U.K. investment company Foresight Solar Fund has expanded its PV portfolio this week following the acquisition of 34 MW of solar assets.

Foresight has snapped up a majority share in three solar farms located in England via a joint venture (JV) with Belectric-backed Big60Million Limited – a community solar benefit group that recently launched a £20.4 million ($30.3 million) solar bond portfolio designed to enable more people to invest in solar in the U.K.

The JV has acquired a 15 MW solar farm in Atherstone and a 10 MW solar farm in Southam – both located in the English Midlands county of Warwickshire. An additional solar farm – the 9 MW Paddock Wood array – is located in Kent, near London.

Each of these large-scale solar farms were connected to the grid in March this year, and are thus eligible for the renewable obligation (RO) accreditation scheme at a rate of 1.4 ROCs/MWh.

Foresight Solar Fund confirmed that it had raised equity from the Company’s June 2015 placing in order to acquire the solar assets, and revealed that it has extended its solar fund to £150 million ($232 million) with the aim of purchasing up to 51 MW of British solar assets under the 1.4 ROC.

Recent changes in the U.K.’s solar support scheme announced this week make the ROC at 1.4/MWh even more attractive than ever, with the scheme to be phased out completely – even for solar farms smaller than 5 MW – by April 1, 2016.

In attempting to defend these subsidy cuts, Energy Minister Amber Rudd has come under fire and been accused of "grotesque hypocrisy" following her speech today about the Conservative’s plans to tackle climate change.

Having slashed subsidy support for solar and wind power, the government has also scrapped the Green Deal, which was introduced to make it more attractive for British homeowners to invest in energy efficiency measures in the home.

Effectively, since the budget a few weeks ago, the Conservatives have introduced a slew of measures that are likely to increase the U.K.’s carbon emissions in the longer term.

"The Conservatives are committed to action on climate change and we are clear that our long-term economic plan goes hand-in-hand with a long-term plan for climate action," Rudd outlined in her speech. "Climate action is about security, plain and simple – economic security. The economic impact of unchecked climate change would be profound. Lower growth, higher prices, a lower quality of life. It is the ultimate insurance policy."

The head of Greenpeace U.K., John Sauven, scoffed at this notion when interviewed by BBC News. "We are deeply shocked by the vandalism of the government, which appears to be driven totally by idealogy. Their policies will not lead to the low-carbon society they claim they want… they are destroying the U.K. renewables industry just at the point where it’s almost competitive – it’s madness."

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