Ashford Borough Council eyes 9MW solar farm as ‘significant’ income boost

Ashford Borough Council is to develop a 9MW solar farm on council land which it said would provide a “significant income stream” for the local authority.

The council’s cabinet has agreed to proposals to develop the project on a 50-acre plot of land in Shadoxhurst, south west of Ashford in Kent.

The land was purchased by the council in 2017 but is currently only used for grazing, and has been determined to offer “little scope” for agricultural use. The council has subsequently agreed that a solar farm would be the “optimal use” for the site.

The solar farm would be developed primarily to export solar to the grid and is forecast to generate around £7 million over a 25-year life expectancy, profits from which are to be used to secure council services during what constitutes a challenging economic climate.

Having received cabinet approval, the council will now conduct a local consultation with both parish councils and local communities, which will be followed by a formal planning application.

Graham Galpin, portfolio holder for corporate property at the council, said the body was proactively seeking ways in which it can secure additional funding.

“We also feel it is our duty to take the lead on improving air quality by producing electricity through greener, more sustainable means.

“Of course, we will be carrying out a comprehensive local consultation as part of the planning process and, should the project come to fruition I am confident that this project will enable us to secure income in a way that actually has a positive effect on our borough’s carbon footprint,” he said.

Councils up and down the UK have turned to solar with increasing regularity given the technology’s ability to deliver consistent returns on investment while simultaneously boosting a body’s environmental credentials.

Cambridgeshire County Council recently unveiled plans to turn two former landfill sites into solar-plus-storage farms to bolster its coffers, while Bristol recently landed millions in funding to launch a “new wave” of clean energy projects in the city’s borders.

EDF to launch solar, storage and blockchain pilot in Brixton

Consumers in a Brixton housing estate will soon be able to trade solar power amongst themselves as an EDF Energy-backed, blockchain-enabled pilot project gets underway.

Project CommUNITY, as it has been dubbed, will see EDF work alongside community renewables firm Repowering London and University College London’s Energy Institute on a peer-to-peer trading platform using electricity generated from a rooftop solar installation at Elmore House.

Power from the install will be used by the residents of Elmore House and stored in domestic batteries, ready to be shared between residents as and when it’s needed.

Blockchain technologies will be used to track and trace the power for transactional purposes, while a consumer-facing app is to be introduced to enable residents to access the trading platform and request power.

The project is to start next month and run through to October 2019, but has been in the pipeline for some time.

Solar Power Portal sister publication Current± first mentioned the project back in July 2017, when Ofgem revealed it to be one of a number of projects the regulator was looking to include within its Regulatory Sandbox.

Under current regulations customers are only permitted to purchase electricity from a single party, essentially prohibiting the development of peer-to-peer trading networks. However Ofgem is known to be considering changes to the regulatory framework as the power sector evolves.

Xavier Mamo, R&D director at EDF Energy, said the firm was committed to unlocking the benefits that new technologies stand to bring to the sector.

“By collaborating with our partners and using blockchain technology, this project in Brixton aims to show how small communities in dense urban areas could benefit from a low carbon and local energy system in a new and transformative way.”

Our partners Good Energy partners Belectric, Powerstar for C&I battery storage push

Good Energy has turned to Belectric and Powerstar to help bolster its C&I battery storage offering.

The clean energy utility selected the duo following a competitive tender and procurement process, and they will be tasked with helping Good design, install, operate and maintain commercial and industrial-scale battery storage projects in the company’s pipeline.

Powerstar, which manufacturers a containerised battery storage solution alongside voltage optimisers and distribution transformers, will supply equipment for the installs while Belectric, which has a reputation throughout Europe for its work as an engineering, procurement and construction specialist in the solar and storage fields, will provide those services.

Good Energy has been pursuing a move into the C&I storage sector for some time, raising more than £10 million in mid-2017 to push into the storage and electric vehicle sectors as part of a wider pivot towards energy services.

It procured its maiden energy storage project later that year, unveiling plans to install a 250kW project on behalf of Eden Project, one of the supplier’s most prominent C&I customers.

Good Energy said the partnerships with innogy-owned Belectric and Powerstar would “ready” the firm for future projects and put into place a “key part of the framework” for their delivery.

The firm has also sought to build out its battery storage team, bringing in a number of new hires, a number of which – including ex-Centrica man Tim Wynn-Jones – have been recruited from Big Six energy companies.

Randall Bowen, sales and commercial director at Good Energy, said battery storage technologies stood to be attractive to businesses in their ability to boost their energy control and independence.

“Having the right partners in place to deliver this for our customers is a really important step in realizing Good Energy’s strategic vision,” he said.

Pan-European secondary solar market set for ‘exciting times’ as growth, O&G interest set to continue

The continued growth of the secondary solar market on a pan-European scale will result in “exciting times” for the sector, but big utilities are unlikely to stay on the sidelines.

Those were the conclusions from this morning’s opening plenary session at the Solar Finance and Investment Conference held in London, which discussed the health of secondary solar markets throughout Europe.

Lee Moscovitch, partner at Greencoat Capital, said that despite a retraction in the number of opportunities relating to subsidised built assets throughout Europe, secondary markets continue to grow and are “very healthy on a pan-European basis”, indicating it to be an “exciting time” to be in PV.

Moscovitch’s sentiments were echoed by Octopus Investment’s Chris Gaydon, who said that asset holders were currently taking advantage of a lot of opportunities to squeeze value from their portfolios, including economies of scale benefits in asset management, increased buying power when negotiating power purchase agreements and larger project refinancing packages helping to improve portfolio economics.

Last year Octopus celebrated completing what remains Europe’s largest solar refinancing package, standing at £564 million.

A poll of delegates found that a majority of 55% considered Spain to be the hottest secondary market for the year ahead, leading Italy (18%) and the UK (16%). Moscovitch, whose fund is bound to invest solely in UK-based assets, remarked that one Spanish tender had received more than 50 expressions of interest, indicating the scale of appetite for solar in the country.

However Aldo Beolchini, managing partner at NextEnergy Capital, suggested investors “may have very short memories” to place the Spain and Italy PV markets so high on their agendas, alluding to sweeping regulatory uncertainty in those countries.

The secondary solar market, particularly in the UK, continues to attract a multitude of investors and an increase in investment from institutional funds has been one of the must-watch trends. A significant majority of the audience at this morning’s session – some 70% – said institutional investment would be the largest contributor to the built solar asset market in 2019.

However the results of the poll attracted questioning from Gaydon, who said it was surprising to see corporate entities such as oil and gas majors and energy utilities expected to take a back seat.

“Oil and gas companies aren’t going to sit around while renewables cannibalise their profits,” he said, alluding to continued interest in the solar space from the likes of Shell, BP, Orsted and Vattenfall.

Pan-European secondary solar market set for ‘exciting times’ as growth, O&G interest set to continue

The continued growth of the secondary solar market on a pan-European scale will result in “exciting times” for the sector, but big utilities are unlikely to stay on the sidelines.

Those were the conclusions from this morning’s opening plenary session at the Solar Finance and Investment Conference held in London, which discussed the health of secondary solar markets throughout Europe.

Lee Moscovitch, partner at Greencoat Capital, said that despite a retraction in the number of opportunities relating to subsidised built assets throughout Europe, secondary markets continue to grow and are “very healthy on a pan-European basis”, indicating it to be an “exciting time” to be in PV.

Moscovitch’s sentiments were echoed by Octopus Investment’s Chris Gaydon, who said that asset holders were currently taking advantage of a lot of opportunities to squeeze value from their portfolios, including economies of scale benefits in asset management, increased buying power when negotiating power purchase agreements and larger project refinancing packages helping to improve portfolio economics.

Last year Octopus celebrated completing what remains Europe’s largest solar refinancing package, standing at £564 million.

A poll of delegates found that a majority of 55% considered Spain to be the hottest secondary market for the year ahead, leading Italy (18%) and the UK (16%). Moscovitch, whose fund is bound to invest solely in UK-based assets, remarked that one Spanish tender had received more than 50 expressions of interest, indicating the scale of appetite for solar in the country.

However Aldo Beolchini, managing partner at NextEnergy Capital, suggested investors “may have very short memories” to place the Spain and Italy PV markets so high on their agendas, alluding to sweeping regulatory uncertainty in those countries.

The secondary solar market, particularly in the UK, continues to attract a multitude of investors and an increase in investment from institutional funds has been one of the must-watch trends. A significant majority of the audience at this morning’s session – some 70% – said institutional investment would be the largest contributor to the built solar asset market in 2019.

However the results of the poll attracted questioning from Gaydon, who said it was surprising to see corporate entities such as oil and gas majors and energy utilities expected to take a back seat.

“Oil and gas companies aren’t going to sit around while renewables cannibalise their profits,” he said, alluding to continued interest in the solar space from the likes of Shell, BP, Orsted and Vattenfall.

Cambridgeshire County Council unveils ‘first of their kind’ landfill solar-plus-storage parks

Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) has unveiled two landmark solar-plus-storage projects on existing landfill sites which aim to be the first of their kind in the UK.

CCC, which has been a prominent proponent of renewables, last week unveiled plans to develop the energy projects on landfill sites in Woodston and Stanground, both near Peterborough.

The Stanground site is proposed to be the largest, combining a 2.25MW ground-mount solar array with a 10MW battery storage system, while the Woodston project will use a 3MW battery.

Both sites are to be used for demand-side response services and to offer balancing capacity to the national grid.

Crucially, revenue generated from the services is to be used to help fund the county council’s frontline services, with previously-stated revenue generation estimates placing the sites’ combined contribution at almost £46 million over 25 years.

CCC’s energy investment team has worked with frequent partner Bouygues E & S for the sites’ design.

CCC’s experience with solar has been long standing and the council remains one of the most vocal supporters of the technology. In late 2016 CCC confirmed the completion of the 10MW, council-owned Triangle Solar Farm in Soham, the second utility-scale solar project to be completed under the Contracts for Difference mechanism.

This was followed up later in 2017 with the unveiling of plans to develop a near-1MW solar car port, combined with a battery storage system, at the council’s St Ives Park & Ride, with similar plans also planned for the Trumpington Park & Ride.

BP expands EV networks play into China with PowerShare investment

Image: BP.

BP has invested in PowerShare, one of China’s largest electric vehicle charging solutions providers, further bolstering its EV play.

The investment in PowerShare has come from BP Ventures and forms part of the EV firm’s Series A round funding. BP has led the round with support from Chinese private equity firm Detong Capital Partners.

PowerShare provides an online platform that connects EV drivers, charge point operators and power suppliers, professing to streamline and simplify the consumer experience. Meanwhile, the cloud-based system also enables power suppliers to optimise operations by monitoring and balancing power demand from vehicles with a particular grid’s supply capacity.

The investment comes less than a year after BP acquired UK EV charging network firm Chargemaster in what constituted a significant, cross-vertical play for the UK’s growing EV market.

BP said at the time that the acquisition formed part of a wider energy transition strategy to develop new offers to meet consumer demand, and today’s PowerShare investment would cement the energy giant’s first foray into one of the world’s most significant electric vehicle markets.

Lamar McKay, deputy chief executive at BP, said China was a key market for BP as it seeks to extend its e-mobility offering.

“Our investment into PowerShare, BP Ventures’ first direct investment in China, demonstrates our continued intent to provide charging solutions and advanced mobility offers to Chinese consumers both on and off our forecourts,” he said.

Ethan Zhu, founder and chief exec at PowerShare, said the firm had accumulated “rich experiences” in charging solutions and, with BP’s backing, would now be looking to expand both its technology range and market reach.

“We are much honoured to partner with world leading companies like BP to jointly expand markets, develop core technologies, and explore new business models in the global eMobility business,” he said.

Cambridgeshire County Council unveils ‘first of their kind’ landfill solar-plus-storage parks

Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) has unveiled two landmark solar-plus-storage projects on existing landfill sites which aim to be the first of their kind in the UK.

CCC, which has been a prominent proponent of renewables, last week unveiled plans to develop the energy projects on landfill sites in Woodston and Stanground, both near Peterborough.

The Stanground site is proposed to be the largest, combining a 2.25MW ground-mount solar array with a 10MW battery storage system, while the Woodston project will use a 3MW battery.

Both sites are to be used for demand-side response services and to offer balancing capacity to the national grid.

Crucially, revenue generated from the services is to be used to help fund the county council’s frontline services, with previously-stated revenue generation estimates placing the sites’ combined contribution at almost £46 million over 25 years.

CCC’s energy investment team has worked with frequent partner Bouygues E & S for the sites’ design.

CCC’s experience with solar has been long standing and the council remains one of the most vocal supporters of the technology. In late 2016 CCC confirmed the completion of the 10MW, council-owned Triangle Solar Farm in Soham, the second utility-scale solar project to be completed under the Contracts for Difference mechanism.

This was followed up later in 2017 with the unveiling of plans to develop a near-1MW solar car port, combined with a battery storage system, at the council’s St Ives Park & Ride, with similar plans also planned for the Trumpington Park & Ride.

India Cuts Implementation Timelines For Solar Power Projects

Concerned over the lackluster pace of capacity addition in the solar power sector, the Indian government has made amendments to the auction and project implementation timelines. The recent amendments to the policies would result in much quicker implementation of large-scale solar power projects giving hope to the government that the 2022 target of 100 gigawatts solar power capacity will be realized.

According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Power, the number of days designated for completion of various steps involved in the tendering and auction process of large-scale solar power projects have been reduced by eight to ten days. Earlier, a project would have to be awarded to project developers within 120 days after issuance of the tender document, this timeline has been reduced to 110 days. Similarly, a power purchase agreement would have had to be signed within 150 days after the issuance of the tender documents, this has been reduced to 140 days. Charanka Solar Park Gujarat, India

As per previous regulations, developers had 12 months to achieve financial closure. The government has now reduced this time period to nine months for projects located within solar parks, whereas projects to implemented outside solar parks will continue to have the same time period to achieve financial closure.

To commission the projects, developers earlier had a period of 21 months, and 24 months, if the project is more than 250 megawatts capacity and located outside a solar park. In the amended regulations, reference to the project capacity has been removed. Developers setting up projects within a solar park shall now have 15 months to fully implement their projects, while for other projects developers have been given a timeline of 18 months.

The government has been forced to issue this notification, and modify the implementation schedule right from the issuance of tenders to final commissioning of projects due to the recent delays, cancellation, and annulment of tenders and schemes.

The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) had to annul 2.4 of 3 gigawatts capacity awarded through an auction last year. The Minister of New and Renewable Energy announced cancellation of a scheme where 12 gigawatts capacity was to be auctioned for power supply bundled with power generated from coal-based power plants. Several other tenders, including one linked to development of solar manufacturing facilities, have been delayed and reduced in size.

The Infinity Group New Aquisition

Infinity Renewables has bought UK solar energy company Alter Energy  for close to £1.2 Million in order to integrate its technology into the domestic energy storage market.

Alter Energy Solar is a UK company responsible for designing, making and supplying solar power systems for houses and business. Infinity has said the company’s technology is well suited to supplying energy for its domestic battery systems.

The deal will see infinity become a completely ‘vertical’ energy company, providing customers with everything from the power source to energy storage.

Alter Energy Solar and Infinity have been working together for some time, as Alter Energy has been supplying Infinity with battery packs.