UK: Greencoat boosts solar portfolio by 75 MW, NI Water unveils £7 million project

Despite the recent U.K. budget news, which again failed to make any mention of solar, there is still activity to record in the country, thus demonstrating just how resilient the industry can be, even without support.

This week, Germany’s BayWa r.e. announced it has sold the last of its U.K. solar farm assets, following the sale of 75 MW to Greencoat Solar II LP, an investment fund managed by Greencoat Capital.

While the financial details were not disclosed, BayWa said the portfolio includes the 45 MW Bann Road solar farm, which is said to be the largest of its kind in Northern Ireland; the remaining 30 MW are spread across six solar farms located in England and Wales.

Last December, Greencoat Solar I LP bought up 30 MW worth of solar assets from BayWa. The investment fund, which was established in 2016, has worked fast to boost its portfolio. To date, it owns around 23 solar farms, totaling roughly 255 MW. BayWa, meanwhile, which has commissioned around 200 MW of solar in the U.K., has said it will increasingly focus on the O&M sector.

South Antrim

In related news, NI Water has announced it will invest £7 million in the rollout of a 4.99 MW solar PV project to supply electricity to its Dunore Water Treatment works in South Antrim. Any surplus will be fed back to the grid.

According to the company, at 7%, the site is its third largest in terms of annual energy consumption. Located on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh, the solar farm is expected to save over £0.5 million annually in energy costs. Construction work is scheduled for completion this coming March. While grid connection has been approved, spokesperson for NI Water, Clare Lewsley could not elaborate on the deal struck, stating that purchase prices are commericlly sensitive.

In a statement, CEO Sara Venning commented, “As the largest user of electricity in N. Ireland, we are committed to limiting our impact on the environment. NI Water expects to increase our electricity consumption from renewable sources from currently around 13% to 40% in 2020/21.” Including the Dunore project, solar is expected to contribute around 2.2% to this goal, Lewsley told pv magazine.

NI Water has installed around 1.2 MW of solar to date, mainly across smaller, roof-mounted installations between 10 and 50kWp in size, continued Lewsley. She added, “NI Water currently has no plans to install solar at the two larger sites, however we continue to assess a number of other renewable projects at various sites and will progress these where viable.”

This article was amended on December 1 to include comments from NI Water.