UK developer plans "subsidy-free" solar projects

Solar installation
CC BY 2.0 minoru karamatsu

As costs keep coming down, reliance on government incentives decreases.

With significant uncertainty around the British elections—combined with a slump caused by rapid cuts in subsidies—the once thriving UK solar industry has good reason to hold its breath.

But Business Green reports on good news amid the uncertainty: Guernsey-based investment company NextEnergy Solar Fund has announced its investing in four proposed solar farms—with a total capacity of nearly 60MW—that it believes it can develop without subsidies.

Key to the success of this effort is a waiting game. NESF is saying it will "initiate construction of each individual asset only once the financial returns are sufficiently attractive." According to the company's statements, it expects subsidy-free solar plants to become viable, in certain circumstances, over the next 12 to 24 months. Specifically, it looks like the first round of subsidy-free projects will be those that are backed by a power purchase agreement—the likes of which companies like Google use to meet their corporate renewable energy commitments.

So the big takeaway is this: Every time you see a company such as Lego announce it has achieved 100% renewables, it is very far from corporate greenwash. Every single commitment like this is fundamentally changing the energy landscape, not only expanding renewable energy in the short-term, but also undermining the ability of delayers and naysayers to derail progress by slashing subsidies.

With tantalizing signs that unsubsidized wind energy may also be arriving offshore and on, we are entering the early stages of a new era of energy economics.

No wonder the coal industry is in trouble.

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