UK added 545 MW of solar last year to hit 13.9 GW


With the rebranded trade body for U.K. solar today revealing the country added 545 MW of generation capacity last year, there were fresh announcements of plans for a further 1.6 GWp of project capacity in the former EU member state.

The biggest statement of intent this morning was made by Newcastle-based private equity group Windel Capital, which said it had signed a deal with Sino-Canadian manufacturer Canadian Solar to “co-develop” a 1.4 GWp solar portfolio in the U.K., with the first sites to be ready to install in the second half of the year.

The press release issued by Windel to announce the arrangement was light on detail but stated the fund would take the 1.4 GWp of projects it has amassed over 18 months to “ready-to-build” status. Indicating Canadian Solar would contribute funding and source power purchase agreements (PPAs), it is presumed Canadian Solar would construct the projects and supply the modules but it was not clear which entity would retain ownership of the projects in question, which could include co-located battery storage facilities, according to Windel.

pv magazine contacted the private equity fund seeking more details about how the project development agreement will work but was told: “The project development agreement is a confidential agreement and as such neither party can release details of how the mechanics work, the press release issued directly by Windel Capital is the approved content for publication.”


Reading-based engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services company Anesco announced separately this morning it had secured a three-year, “more than £100 million” (€113 million) contract to provide EPC and operations and maintenance services on a 200 MW portfolio of 20-50 MW solar projects in the U.K.

The three-year deal for the “shovel-ready” projects will be financed by London-based, sustainability-focused investment fund Gresham House, following the latter's acquisition of a 12 MW, subsidy-free solar project from Anesco last year. The first of the planned solar sites is set to begin construction this year with the full portfolio to be grid connected within three years.

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U.K. trade body Solar Energy UK – formerly the Solar Trade Association – said the nation added 545 MW of solar generation capacity last year to take it to a total 13.9 GW, with 60% of the new project capacity ground-mounted and the balance from, mostly commercial and industrial, solar rooftops.

The industry group said the figures it had compiled along with London-based specialist publisher Solar Media Ltd were more accurate than the official government returns which, said Solar Energy UK, lag almost 500 MW behind the real volume.

A bumper year for U.K. solar – despite Covid-19 – saw a record 9.68 GW of solar generation in April and another landmark a month later, when solar supplied 11% of the country's electricity.

Buoyed by the rise of non-subsidized, PPA-driven project capacity, the market could be set for another big year, according to Solar Media head of research Finlay Colville, who said: “The outlook for 2021 and beyond is expected to see continued deployment at the gigawatt-plus level.”

This copy was amended on 26/01/21 to include Windel Capital's response.

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