UK developer reveals 1 GW, subsidy-free solar and storage pipeline

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With U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson today launching what he claims is a “positively Rooseveltian” £5 billion (€5.47 billion) infrastructure plan which appears light on green commitments, English solar developer Enso Energy has also announced ambitious plans – to develop 1 GW of subsidy-free solar generation capacity plus battery storage systems.

The U.K. government – like many of its global peers hemorrhaging cash to finance emergency Covid-19 economic assistance programs – might have benefited from returns from the ambitious solar and energy storage program outlined by Enso, given the developer is bringing the planned portfolio to life through a joint venture with environmental financier the Green Investment Group. That entity started life in 2012 as the U.K. national Green Investment Bank under a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government but was sold off to Australian investment giant Macquarie in April 2017, by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.

Regardless of the political background, the announcement by Gloucestershire-based Enso is an endorsement of power purchase agreement (PPA)-backed, unsubsidized solar in the U.K.

Projects

A statement issued by Enso this morning gave details of plans for a 1 GW generation portfolio of solar projects across England and Wales which have secured grid connections and which have entered a planning process which, in the age of Covid-19, includes virtual town hall consultation events as well as information mail-outs.

The Enso statement said “many” of the projects in the pipeline would feature tracker and bifacial technology to reduce their land footprint. The seven solar projects listed on the Enso website, which add up to less than 350 MW of generation capacity, are all understood to form part of the 1 GW plan but only one named project – in South Oxfordshire – mentions trackers and only one, at Larks Green, South Gloucestershire, states bifacial panels will be used.

All the projects listed on the Enso site mention battery storage elements, although no indication of storage capacities is given.

Green finance

Throughout this quarter, pv magazine is diving deep into the topic of green finance and what it means for solar industry players, as part of our UP initiative. Topics have included the European Green Deal, regional growth opportunities, green bonds and the role of the carbon bubble. Stay tuned and get involved!

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This article was amended on 30/06/20 to confirm the 1 GW figure relates solely to solar generation capacity and does not include the scale of associated battery storage facilities.