Cornwall storage provides flexibility as Centrica’s LEM trading platform goes live

A Cornwall resident participating in the LEM. Image: Centrica

Centrica’s LEM hits a new milestone as flexibility from solar-plus-storage is procured by both National Grid ESO and Western Power Distribution (WPD) on the same platform.

This marks the first time in the world a transmission system operator and a distribution network operator have procured flexibility simultaneously from the same third-party platform, Centrica said.

A hundred sonnen batteries with capacities of 5kW, 7.5kW and 10kW have been installed in homes across Cornwall, as well as 46 solar PV systems, with the remaining 54 houses taking part in the LEM already having PV. 

1MWh redT redox flow machine was also installed at working farm and holiday retreat, The Olde House, in 2017 as part of the trial.

Over 125 businesses were also kitted out with a variety of flexible low carbon energy technologies and monitoring technology, including solar and storage, as well as combined heat and power units among other technologies.

This flexibility is now being traded through Centrica’s trading platform, which allows both WPD – the DNO for the region – and National Grid ESO to place bids for flexibility services. They can both indicate when they will need an increase or decrease in generation or consumption to balance the grid or manage a local network constraint.

These bids are then matched with offers from sellers through auctions that can run from months in advance to intraday. Sellers receive a financial reward for their services.

Jenny Woodruff, project manager at WPD, said as flexibility services will increasingly be used, the chances of conflicts occuring rises.

“It’s potentially a significant problem, so this trial is an exciting step to find a solution,” she said.

The LEM is being part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is one of several projects taking part in Ofgem’s regulatory sandbox. Partners in the project are National Grid ESO, WPD, N-SIDE, Exeter University and Imperial College London.

Pieter-Jan Mermans, director of optimisation at Centrica Business Solutions, said the trials are a “major step forward” in improving grid flexibility.

“We are hugely grateful to the householders and businesses across Cornwall who have embraced this trial with open arms, and we look forward to providing a full update after the trials conclude in spring 2020.”

UK will need 1,400GWh of energy storage for future energy system, new modelling reveals

Both heat and electric storage will play a large role in a low-cost scenario. Image: Sunamp

“Significantly” more electric and thermal storage will be needed for a low-cost 2050 energy system than previously thought.

This is according to findings from a new energy system modelling tool launched by the Energy Systems Catapult, looking into the role of storage and flexibility in decarbonisation.

To meet an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 – a goal now out of date after net zero become legally binding – the UK will need nearly 1,400GWh of electric and thermal storage, a figure 55% higher than previous estimates made by the Energy Technology Institute’s Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME).

However, the base scenario tested suggested interconnectors and Micro CHP capacity in 2030 will replace the need for short term electricity storage provided by batteries in the 2020s. It also found electric vehicles with managed charging will reduce the need for additional flexibility in the electricity sector.

In its second scenario, where carbon capture and storage is unavailable, electricity storage capacities double to 150GW and an additional 28GW of hot water storage capacity is required in the heat sector by 2050. In this scenario, although the total capacity of electricity storage technologies increase, proportionally the greatest increase is for shorter duration batteries.

However, these are only initial findings requiring further investigation, with additional plans to run the model according to the net zero target.

The Storage and Flexibility Model (SFM) is capable of representing future grid scenarios at a second-by-second level and works across multiple seasons, vectors, network levels and geographic regions.

It was commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute and developed by Baringa.

The insights from the model are applicable to a range of use cases, including long-term capacity planning, assessing the value of specific storage technologies and identifying the system service requirements of future energy systems.

The model is on offer to any organisation in the sector. It explores a range of questions such as the scale of the different future service requirements, the value of various forms of storage and flexibility, the affect of key drivers of uncertainty on the role of storage and what that role might be.

Alex Buckman, networks and energy storage practice manager at Energy Systems Catapult, said the SFM fills a “crucial” space in the current modelling landscape.

“Without a deeper understanding of how these technologies could help in balancing energy networks, we will at best end up with a system that costs more than it needs to and at worst one that fails to manage supply and demand,” he continued.

Tesco unveils major green electricity project, including 187 onsite rooftop solar installs

Tesco is aiming to use 100% renewable energy by 2030. Image: Pexels

Tesco is aiming to use 100% renewable energy by 2030. Image: Pexels

Supermarket giant Tesco has announced a major green electricity project, including the installation of solar panels on 187 of its sites covering 335,000m2.

The project will also include a ground-mounted solar farm and five onshore wind farms. In total, the new projects will generate enough power for the equivalent of 140,000 homes.

A number of different companies are involved in the project, including Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) which will own and operate solar panels on around 20 sites. GIG managing director Andrew Gray, who is responsible for the deal, said GIG is excited to support Tesco.

“At a time when subsidies for solar PV are starting to come to an end in the UK and around the world, our team has continued its effort to deploy solar PV systems to help reduce carbon emissions as well as energy bills for our customers.”

EDF Renewables have also signed three power purchase agreements (PPA) with Tesco, to provide 60MW of power, in a deal that includes 17 roof mounted solar installations.

The installations will be made up of 15,000 solar PV panels, with a capacity of 5MWp. The roof mounted solar projects are particularly key to Tesco’s goals, as it is aiming to produce 10% of it’s electricity onsite by 2030.

CEO of EDF Renewables UK, Matthieu Hue said that the agreement showed the company’s ability to provide “diverse solutions for customers in terms of low cost renewable electricity.”

“These exciting projects also demonstrate our ability to develop subsidy free solar and wind in the UK as well as underpinning the important part these technologies play in de-carbonising the UK electricity system to reach the country’s net zero targets by 2050.”

The other two PPAs signed by EDF will both be wind farms in Scotland, with a total capacity of 54MW. One will be a 10.8MW extension to the Burnfoot East wind farm project, and the other will be a brand new farm with a capacity of around 43 MW, the details of which will be announced later.

Further PPAs have been signed by BayWa r.e. and ScottishPower, to provide power to Tesco from windfarms in Scotland.

Gordon MacDougall, Managing Director, BayWa r.e. UK said they were proud to be partnering with Tesco at their Inverclyde Windfarm. “With construction underway, we are delighted the windfarm will help Tesco move a step closer to achieving its renewable energy goals.”

The projects will help create 400 jobs, save 90,000 tonnes of CO2 per year and help move the company towards becoming zero-carbon by 2050, after it was the first FTSE 100 company to set such a target.

Jason Tarry, Tesco UK and ROI CEO, said that the project represented a “major milestone” in the company’s plans to use 100% renewable electricity by 2030.

“Our supply chain and long-term business sustainability depend on the health of the natural environment. Our customers and colleagues expect Tesco to play its part in caring for the planet.”

Tesco has already made a number of moves into developing its renewable capacity, after Solar Power Portal exclusively announced in January that it was planning a major rollout of solar on the roofs of its stores in the UK. The company has since signed a PPA to install around 5MW of rooftop solar PV, as well as entering into a trial looking at the potential of using its refrigeration capacity to provide frequency response.

Making energy better for everyone

  • With a World First Artificial Intelligence Powered Energy Storage VPP

With UK success under its belt, Social Energy is set to make Australia’s vast rooftop PV resource pay back more to households and deliver for the grid — think an energy-storage system that uses AI to manage, distribute and trade energy generated by aggregated home solar.


Smart power aggregator Social Energy this month brings its UK-developed energy saving-and-trading platform, based on an AI-enabled Duracell 2.5-15 kWh battery storage system, to the Australian market — households and small businesses with rooftop solar can expect “up to 100% reduction on energy bills, sometimes more,” says Chris Parratt, Managing Director of Social Energy Australia.

The artificial intelligence links participants in state-based virtual power plants, and forecasts individual property energy consumption against the wholesale energy market price to automatically trade excess power at times of peak demand when electricity charges are at their highest.

“The idea is that batteries don’t yet have an economic payback,” especially as feed-in-tariff incentives fade, says Parratt.

Social Energy uses earnings from providing frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) to the grid and trading on energy spot markets to provide offset income to consumers.

Designed to truly empower homes and small businesses with rooftop solar to manage their energy expenditure, Social Energy’s integrated app prompts users on how to achieve ultimate efficient deployment of electrical infrastructure and appliances, while the AI learns the relevant habits and triggers for energy use in any given household.

The algorithm also correlates numerous data sets, including weather and traffic information, and mobile-phone data, with its understanding of how each household consumes energy. Through the app, the algorithm can, for instance, determine if a customer is late coming home.

“The system is ‘interested’ in when people come home, because that can be when energy prices are highest, so it determines when the battery is going to be used for self-consumption and for the wholesale market,” Parratt told pv magazine.

Social Energy’s smarts use weather forecasts to help schedule charging and discharging of the battery. “It’s interested in whether there’s going to be rain and cloud cover, which means solar is not at its strongest,” says Parratt. “It might still do that price arbitrage between charging now for a later peak, but that peak could be based on weather conditions, a daily occurring peak in the system, or whatever’s going on in the wholesale market, such as baseload generators being down — our forecast prepares for price events as well.

It will also become increasingly important as electric vehicles achieve higher penetration in the Australian market, to schedule charging of vehicles during times of lowest market cost of energy, while still meeting other household needs.

100% green energy retailer

As part of the package, Social Energy will become the energy retailer for participating homes and businesses, providing any power shortfall in the form of 100% green energy, generally purchased at off-peak rates.

“Our advantage over a big energy retailer like AGL or Origin is that the Social Energy platform can manage the use of power, and we’re buying less at peak,” says Parratt.

In the UK, Social Energy has secured 54% of the home solar battery market since it launched in late November last year.

The AI-enabled Energy Bank 2 is designed for Australia, and will be launched this week at All Energy, at a fully installed cost of $9,800 for 10 kWh of storage.

Battery payback

“Batteries are still expensive,” says Parratt, but 2020 module prices are lower, and also offer better efficiency.” He estimates savings and earnings will pay for the battery within five years, instead of the typical market standard of around 10 years.

Social Energy’s Duracell Energy Bank 2 is scalable from the smallest available unit of 2.5 kWh, but Parratt, who was until recently MD at sonnen Australia, anticipates 10 kWh will be the Australian-market sweet spot.

“The modular system is designed to be tailored to customer economics. We’re interested in maximising savings and earnings for each household.”

“Over 10 years, we think the average house in NSW will receive $15,000 for participating.” This includes savings from self-consumption from the battery, and payments from services provided to the grid.

The calculation is based on a three-bedroom household with a Social Energy-connected 5 kW/11.6 kWh battery linked to a new 5 kWp solar PV system and assuming electricity consumption after solar of 4000 kWh in South Australia, or 3300 kWh in NSW.

The Social Energy kit includes a 5 kW inverter and backup provision, and has an IP65 waterproof rating which enables outdoor installation. It is also available for three-phase properties.

Social Energy has modified the design of the battery to take into consideration the new AS/NZS 5139:2019 battery installation standard.

“It’s delayed us by a couple of months,” concedes Parratt, “but we’d rather do that now. For example, we’ve changed the height of the system, because 5139 penalises systems that are tall and might be installed too close to the roofs of houses.”

Social Energy brand ambassador and shareholder, cricketing legend Shane Warne, will attend the launch at the top of Melbourne’s Eureka Tower on Wednesday 23 October, to cheer on Australia’s clean-energy revolution and advocate for more concerted action against climate change. Sunscreen recommended.

Brexit unlikely to have ‘major impact’ on solar but concerns on costs, imports remain

While a lot of uncertainty still remains with regards to renewables after Brexit, the growth of subsidy free solar, along with net zero and other targets enshrined in UK law, and the World Trade Organisations (WTO) arrangements should reassure the solar industry. But concerns over imports, skilled staff and growing costs remain.

This was the overarching theme of the Solar Trade Association’s ‘Renewables after Brexit’ event which looked at the economics, the legalities and the guidance that’s been provided to the solar industry by the government.

Solar, along with renewables in general, has grown substantially in the UK over the last decade. This has ensured that the technologies have moved into a much more economical space, with the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for large-scale ground mounted solar PV in the UK expected to be 35% lower in 2030 than it was in 2014. This growth is likely to ensure that regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU next Thursday, there will be continued progress in the solar industry, although the uncertainty over this departure has caused a hiatus in investment.

The speakers did disagree about whether the UK will have to leave the Internal Energy Market (IEM) though. Sam Street and Dan Roberts of Frontier Economics suggested that only in the unlikely event that we have a Norway type deal could we stay in the IEM. They suggested that there were four types of impact likely if we leave the IEM; macroeconomic, the effect on climate aspirations, taxes and duties, and integration and market design.

However, in the last presentation of the day, speakers Elizabeth Reid and Carol Cloughley from law firm Bird and Bird said that in their reading of the political declarations there seemed to be a desire to stay in the IEM, and we were only likely to leave it if we crash out of the EU.

Throughout all the presentations, there was a lot of reassurance. Subsidies for example, will be largely unaffected by Brexit, the government has already introduced a number of changes such as the Find a Tender service to replace EU mechanisms like the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), and we have until the 31 December 2020 to actually implement many of the necessary changes.

A mechanism has been put in place in case we leave the EU emissions trading scheme, where there will be a £16/tonne tax on carbon.

Reassurance about the UK’s ability to import and export electricity and gas was given, as well as components, as it will largely be governed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Under these rules there is 0% duty of electricity for example, and many other aspects of the WTO’s arrangements are in line with the EU’s. It is unlikely that the duty on gas will be high too, as the majority of Ireland’s gas comes through the UK, and it would not be in the EU’s interest to increase costs for member state Ireland.

“If you look at WTO rates they are again zero, if you look at the temporary import rates that were announced by the government they don’t seem to us to include energy components,” said Dan Roberts of Frontier Economics.

The UK will have to strike a ‘fine balance’ when trying to get EU agreements and bilateral trade agreements with China and other countries. The removal of environmental protections in trade deals in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal has caused concern also.

Overall, concerns remain, as few queries can be categorically answered until there is a deal in place. But there are many areas where preparations have been made, and many aspects of the solar industry that will be unaffected.

“There’s nothing out there that looks like it’s going to be a really major impact, specifically in the solar sector,” said Roberts.

Solar and social energy continue to grow

The great news for customers using solar PV panels and social energy continues, as a new study shows the value of the market has reached an all-time high.

If you’re not already part of this incredible energy revolution, here’s what you need to know: the latest developments in technology allow savvy customers to link their solar PV panels to storage batteries (our product uses only approved Duracell 3Kw storage batteries), creating the ability to save, export or sell additional energy drawn from the panels.

Social energy savings

Advancements such as this – which provide the opportunity for customers to cut out the notorious ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers and unlock savings of up to 70% – are powering a global boom in the use of solar and social energy, as more and more consumers and innovators wake up to the revolutionary power on offer to them.

Research from Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association in the Q3 2019 Solar Market Insight Report shows that the value of the market is an all-time high, with the Stateside solar pipeline topping out at a huge 37.9 gigawatts.

This growth continues apace, with an additional 11.2 gigawatts of utility-scale projects announced in the first six months of 2019 alone.

Benefits for consumers  

The scale of the growth, coupled with the disruptive nature of solar and social energy technology, is driving incredible benefits for consumers. Solar is winning the battle to be among the cheapest type of power purchase agreement, with a cost per kWh much better than any new fossil fuel plants coming online. Solar is now the most economical choice for utilities.

So if you have yet to join the social energy revolution and start reaping the benefits, we’ve put together a set of handy resources so you can learn more about how the technology works and how it can help you save, store and trade your own energy.


Renewable electricity overtakes fossil fuels in UK for first time

New offshore windfarms opening in third quarter mark milestone towards zero carbon

Windfarm at Seaton Carew beach near Hartlepool
Ten years ago fossil fuels made four fifths of the UK’s electricity supply. Photograph: Islandstock/Alamy

Renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time over the last quarter, according to new research.

The renewables record was set in the third quarter of this year after its share of the electricity mix rose to 40%.

It is the first time that electricity from British windfarms, solar panels and renewable biomass plants has surpassed fossil fuels since the UK’s first power plant fired up in 1882.

The new milestone confirms predictions made by National Grid that 2019 will be the first year since the Industrial Revolution that zero-carbon electricity – renewables and nuclear – overtakes gas and coal-fired power.

A string of new offshore windfarms built this year helped nudge renewables past fossil fuels, which made up 39% of UK electricity, in a crucial tipping point in Britain’s energy transition.

Fossil fuels made up four-fifths of the country’s electricity fewer than 10 years ago, split between gas and coal, but the latest analysis by Carbon Briefshows that coal-fired power was less than 1% of all electricity generated.

British coal plants are shutting down ahead of a 2025 ban. By next spring just four coal plants will remain in the UK: the West Burton A and Ratcliffe-on-Soar plants in Nottinghamshire, Kilroot in Northern Ireland and two generation units at the Drax site in North Yorkshire, which are earmarked for conversion to burn gas.

Gas-fired power makes up the bulk of the dwindling share of fossil fuels in the energy system at 38%. Nuclear power provided slightly less than a fifth of the UK’s electricity in the last quarter, the report said.

Wind power is the UK’s strongest source of renewable energy and made up 20% of the UK’s electricity following a series of major windfarm openings in recent years. Electricity from renewable biomass plants made up 12% of the energy system, while solar panels contributed 6%.

The world’s largest offshore windfarm, the Hornsea One project, began generating electricity off the Yorkshire coast in February, reaching a peak capacity of 1,200MW in October. It followed the opening of the Beatrice windfarm off the north-east coast of Scotland over the summer.

Together these schemes almost doubled the 2,100MW worth of offshore capacity which began powering homes in 2018.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the minister for energy and clean growth, said the renewables record is “yet another milestone on our path towards ending our contribution to climate change altogether by 2050”.

He said: “Already, we’ve cut emissions by 40% while growing the economy by two thirds since 1990. Now, with more offshore wind projects on the way at record low prices we plan to go even further and faster in the years to come.”

Luke Clark, of Renewable UK, said the industry hopes to treble the size of its offshore wind sector by 2030 to generate more than a third of the UK’s electricity.

Under the Labour party’s plans for Green Industrial Revolution the offshore wind industry would grow five-fold in a decade, with the addition of an extra 37 giant offshore windfarms and 70,000 new jobs.

According to Renewable UK, the growth of the renewables industry is good news for energy bills, as well as the environment, due to the steep fall in the cost of wind and solar power technologies over recent years.

“The cost of new offshore wind projects, for example, has just fallen to an all-time low, making onshore and offshore wind our lowest-cost large scale power sources,” Clark said.

The next generation of offshore windfarms is expected to cost about £40 for every megawatt hour of electricity generated, less than the average market price for electricity on the wholesale energy markets.

“If government were to back a range of technologies – like onshore wind and marine renewables – in the same way as it is backing offshore wind, consumers and businesses would be able to fully reap the benefits of the transition to a low carbon economy,” Clark said.

Solar ‘ready to deliver’ as Labour proposes 2030 net zero target

Image: Getty

Solar is “ready to deliver” in the transition to a net zero future but the Labour Party is facing a “considerable challenge” in its proposed target of net zero by 2030.

This week the Labour Party approved a motion to adopt a Green New Deal, under which the party has pledged to commit to pursuing a net zero economy by 2030 in the event of a Labour majority in any prospective general election.

That target, some 20 years earlier than the current target, made legally binding four months ago, would make it the most ambitious and give the UK just eleven years to achieve the transition.

Chris Hewett, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said that whilst an earlier target is welcome, 2030 would be a “considerable challenge” due to the practicalities of decarbonising “more difficult sectors” such as transport and heat.

Hewett also stressed the importance of utilising solar and battery storage in the transition, which will play a “vital role” over the next decade, in particular as costs are set to continue to fall in the period.

“Solar can be deployed very quickly and has already demonstrated it can do this at scale. The industry stands ready to deliver,” he said.

The Labour Party has shown an interest in supporting solar in recent months, having revealed in May plans to install solar on 1.75 million homes. This ambition was positively received from the industry, described as “the leadership we need on renewables”.

And at last year’s annual conference, the party announced it would look to treble the UK’s solar capacity by 2030 as part of a Labour government.

Hewett lauded this commitment as one which would make “a significant contribution towards the decarbonisation of our grid”.

However, a whole range of clean power sources will be needed to meet net zero within “any timeframe”, RenewableUK’s Luke Clark said.

“We need to rapidly ramp up all of our clean power sources, including onshore wind and innovative renewable technologies, to unlock decarbonisation right across our economy.

“Increased investment in renewable energy will create thousands of jobs across the UK and bring huge benefits to local economies,” Clark continued, adding that offshore wind will be “key” due to its record results in the latest Contracts for Difference auction.

Global renewable energy initiative aims to bring a billion people in from the dark

Worldwide commission aims to end energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia by driving investment in new technology

A woman runs her takeaway restaurant by candlelight during a scheduled power outage in the impoverished neighbourhood of Masiphumelele, Cape Town
A woman runs her takeaway restaurant by candlelight during a scheduled power outage in the impoverished neighbourhood of Masiphumelele, Cape Town. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Electricity could be delivered to more than a billion people currently living without it within a decade by linking up small-scale projects into a giant, environmentally-friendly network.

According to a new global commission, advances in micro energy grids and renewable energy technologies could “dramatically accelerate change” and transform lives in rural areas of sub-Saharan African and south Asia.

The Global Commission to End Energy Poverty met for the first time this week to set out plans to accelerate the UN’s sustainable development goal to ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all people by 2030.

The commission, established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative and the Rockefeller Foundation, plans to bring together leading investors, utilities and policymakers to tackle energy poverty.

Under the initiative, the distributed networks would help connect homes, businesses and schools to small-scale solar power projects to deliver cheap, sustainable electricity that can help power local economic growth.

The commission includes government leaders, energy industry chief executives and representatives from major development organisations, including Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency.

Dr Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and formerly of the US agency for international development, said “a whole new way of thinking” about energy distribution was required.

“We cannot end poverty without successfully ending energy poverty,” said Shah.

“For 140 years we’ve had this mindset that energy access means building big power plants and connecting them to grids, and that’s how you provide electricity.

“Today, new technology frontiers, business models, and our knowledge of alternatives is so strong that this commission will be able to set out a new roadmap to end the energy access problem for 1 billion people across the globe.”

The commission also plans to help set up new regulation in developing countries to accelerate the rollout of new energy systems, and make the projects more attractive to international investors.

“If I want to start a small solar-powered mini-grid programme in a rural part of an under-served country, I could be prevented from actually providing power without permission from the state-owned utility which might own that business opportunity,” Shah explained.

“That’s one of many policy roadblocks that is preventing distributed solutions from really being easy to invest in.”

Shah will co-chair the commission alongside Dr Ernest Moniz, a former US energy secretary,and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank.

Moniz warned that existing plans to end global energy poverty by 2030 are “not fast enough” and should be more ambitious.

“Twenty years ago, energy access might have been defined by having a 20-watt lightbulb. One doesn’t want to denigrate that – the shift from having no light to some light is major – but our ambition is more than that. We want energy access that allows for credible family, community and regional economic development. Frankly, we’d like it to allow for entrepreneurial activity too,” he said.

Moniz said that by relying on renewable energy, particularly solar power alongside batteries, developing nations should be able to attract investment in clean energy and rule out the need for future investments in coal-fired power plants. Adopting such methods could also halt the wood-burning that has led to mass deforestation in some countries, he said.

“Speaking personally, there is a lot of concern about a new round of investments in coal funded by Chinese development banks. There could be a lock-in of emissions for the future. We would rather see distributed [energy grid] architecture, including renewables, and potentially with a role for gas,” he said.

Shah added that economic development and the empowerment of women offered the best chance for a low-emissions future.

“If you’re a woman in rural Bihar and you’re able to all of a sudden access electricity, get a sewing machine, create an income, provide light for your daughter to study at night, it’s just transformational,” said Shah.

“We’ve seen the same thing in India and Myanmar and throughout Africa. This commission embarks upon this task with a huge amount of optimism and a real understanding of how important it is in the lives of so many people around the world.”




Wyelands eyeing early-mover status in UK subsidy-free solar finance rush

Wyelands Bank has set its sights on becoming one of the early movers in subsidy-free solar finance in the UK, investing in a range of projects in a bid to stimulate the market.

Late last month the bank collaborated with renewables developer Anesco and research firm Aurora Energy Research on a new report which claimed that co-located solar-plus-storage projects could deliver investors internal rates of return of around 7.6% as early as next year, a rate which would render a large number of potential developments attractive enough for financiers.

Jim Higginbotham, managing director, asset finance at Wyelands, told Solar Power Portal that the report was actually “fairly conservative” with its estimates, stating that the demand for flexible solar and storage assets in the UK was “inescapable”.

This, Higginbotham said, was a result of the sector’s experience of merchant solar farms and the availability of real-world data which had resulted in greater predictability over revenues and returns.

Nevertheless, it was still considered that most investors would need a “leap of faith” to finance a subsidy-free project in the UK, a leap that “most organisations aren’t prepared to take”. He added that most organizations were finding it hard to “recalibrate their risk appetite” to what is a completely different marketplace in unsubsidised renewables.

Higginbotham said that Wyelands was, however, prepared to take that leap and wanted to become one of the early movers in the space.

Wyelands is keen to invest in subsidy-free solar farms, providing up to £15 million in investment per project. That is expected to support developments in the 10-20MW capacity range, providing around 30 – 35% of the up-front capital cost of certain projects.

It’s part of a wider push into renewables from Wyelands as part of an overall growth plan, with Higginbotham adding that there was “no lack of appetite” to support the marketplace.

“[We’re] never going to be the most predominant lender, but I’d like to be known as a supporter of the industry and the sector. The more people and banks like Wyelands, it will build confidence for the bigger, high street lenders to come into the marketplace.

“If us going first can build the roadway for others to come in and support the industry, then that’s great news as far as I’m concerned. We want to be one of those first movers that starts the momentum,” he said.