UK to deploy ‘first’ unsubsidized C&I solar park

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According to a statement released today by business park owner, Rockspring, and EPC and O&M contractor, BSR Group, Westcott business park, located near Oxford, is set to host the U.K.’s first unsubsidized commercial & industrial (C&I) scale solar system.

Construction on the 15 MW project is expected to start this fall, with operations scheduled for next Spring. When complete, it will primarily generate electricity for the 76 businesses and 600 employees operating in the park, under a PPA that has been brokered with Rockspring. Excess energy will be fed back into the grid via a 33kV connection.

While the system currently does not feature storage, a spokesperson for BSR Group told pv magazine that the plans allow for the addition of such a system at a later stage. They declined to provide any further project information, including on costs.

Philip Wolfe, founder of solar park asset manager, Wolfeware, said, “This project demonstrates that, even in the UK, solar power continues to close in on ‘grid parity’; the level at which it competes with traditional electricity generation. BSR makes such a project not only viable but attractive through offering quality services and innovative design solutions.”

Managing Director of BSR Group, Graham Harding added, “Unsubsidised solar is still in the early stages of development, but our integrated delivery model gives us a head-start in delivering this and future projects.”

Westcott business park installed a 1.6 MW subsidized solar park in 2011. Since then, it has reportedly generated 11 GWh. The new installation is expected to increase production to 14.5GWh/year.

Unsubsidized solar

Unsubsidized solar has been gaining ground in Europe recently, with projects announced in the U.K., Portugal and Spain, to name but a few.

The U.K.’s first unsubsidized solar park, Clayton Hill, has a system rating of 10 MW in conjunction with a 6 MWh battery system. With the storage, the Clayton Hill plant can access additional revenue streams through the sale of ancillary services to National Grid, the U.K.’s grid operator.