UK: Lightsource eyes GBP 600m buyback of installed solar systems

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British solar developer Lightsource has said today that it is ready to spend up to £600 million ($757 million) on a new solar buyback scheme that will allow homeowners and businesses with solar installed to receive a cash lump sum for their solar arrays.

Lightsource says it will assume ownership of the FIT payments for each installation, with customers still receiving free energy generated by their system. Lightsource will also take on all operations and maintenance (O&M) of the solar system, as well as all insurance obligations.

The company states that it is particularly interested in acquiring commercial and domestic PV systems that were installed prior to April 2012, presumably because the FIT payments on these older arrays are more generous than recently installed ones.

More than 1,000 installations have already been purchased by Lightsource under its buyback scheme, adding 2.25 MW of solar to its portfolio. However, this latest push appears to be a more concerted effort to assume a greater portion of installed PV in the U.K. Currently, Lightsource’s O&M portfolio is greater than 2 GW, which is the largest such fleet in Europe.

A Lightsource press releases states that customers can be reassured that they will receive the best possible performance from their system in terms of electricity generation, carbon savings and financial savings.

"There is no question that solar PV is a sound investment," said Lightsource CEO Nick Boyle. "Our buyback scheme offers early adopters the chance to realize an immediate substantial return on their investment today with the added benefit of continued free solar electricity. In return for the FIT payment, we operate, maintain and insure the system – taking the hassle and cost out of any necessary future repairs."

The CEO went on to say that the energy industry as a whole is changing as technologies across solar and IT combine to "create genuinely smart homes and businesses", adding: "These technologies are already changing the way that we live and work, and the application of energy management systems and batteries will revolutionize the energy industry, making it cheaper and cleaner for everyone."

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