ReneSola sells 16.5 MW UK PV plant to Foresight Solar Fund

Vertically integrated Chinese solar company ReneSola has completed the sale of a 16.5 MW solar farm in England to Channel Island-headquartered investment vehicle Foresight Solar Fund Limited (FSFL) for an undisclosed fee.

The sale of the solar farm in Membury, southern England, is the third such transaction between ReneSola and FSFL, following the sale earlier this year of the 34.6 MW Port Farm development and the 6.4 MW Field House solar farm, which were sold in August and July respectively.

ReneSola’s has sought in recent months to augment its downstream activity, and was successful in the U.K. in developing a project pipeline of 71 MW – all of which has now been sold to investors.

The entire portfolio was connected to the U.K. grid in time to qualify for the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme at a rate of 1.4 ROC/MWh. Each project also utilized ReneSola’s Virtus II modules.

"Our downstream strategy has taken root, with downstream partners like FSFL recognizing our project development capabilities and coming back to us multiple times to collaborate on downstream projects," said ReneSola CEO Xianshou Li.

"With our deep pipeline of more than 500 MW of quality downstream projects, we are confident that we can continue to execute well on our downstream strategy and generate cash flow and profitability in 2016 and well into the future."

UK FIT cuts threaten solar school project

The continuous reshuffling of the British solar landscape threatens to derail one of the industry’s most promising success stories – the solar schools initiative.

A charitable project across England and Wales, the initiative has so far been behind the installation of 1,000 solar panels on school rooftops across the two countries, but campaigners opposed to the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) proposals to slash the feed-in tariff (FIT) by up to 87% on January 1, 2016 fear that the changes will mean the solar schools scheme is no longer economically viable for most schools.

"The messages coming out of the government don’t make sense," Amy Cameron, campaign manager at environmental charity 10:10, which runs the scheme, told the Guardian. "One of the key aims of the FIT was supposed to be around public engagement and nowhere is this more true than in schools."

The scheme has "opened the doors to educate pupils and adults about energy and climate change", added Cameron, while also saving an average of $12,000 on each school’s annual energy bill.

Paul Cotter, executive headteacher at Fox primary school in London – the inaugural school that first inspired the scheme – said that the decision to block more schools from benefiting from solar power simply cannot be the right decision.

"We have big roofs, lots of daytime use – and children whose futures depend on a rapid switch to clean energy," Cotter said. Fox school this week delivered a petition to DECC calling for the department to reconsider the proposed cuts.