Posts tagged with: solar investment

Solarbuzz, the market research group which focuses on solar photovoltaic (pv) has released its UK pv market 2010 report and highlights strong growth potential for the year ahead. Indicating the link between the market and the feed-in tariff legislation, Solarbuzz predict that 2011 will see a surge in solar pv installation as investors look to tap into the government’s tariff scheme.

With a focus on such factors as market segmentation, market size and tariff rates the report has highlighted the continuing growth of the infant solar pv market in the UK. Alan Turner of Solarbuzz said,

“The early entrance of big name brands are helping to lend public confidence to what is generally a poorly understood renewable energy source in the UK,”

The Solarbuzz market report has highlighted the following trends for solar pv:

  • The south east accounts for 45 per cent of residential solar pv installations in the US
  • 2011 solar pv figures will be hugely impacted by emerging agricultural and industrial projects
  • Big name brands entering the solar pv market will easily meet the growing demand for solar installations

Hamburg based solar specialist. Centrosolar has opened a UK subsidiary as a way of tapping into the now lucrative UK solar market. Buoyed by the introduction of the feed-in tariff back in April, the UK has attracted growing interest from investors at home and abroad looking to take advantage of the tariff’s offerings.

Centrosolar are a company well known in Germany for the production of both crystalline high performance solar modules and thin film modules designed for roofs not able to take weightier systems. With UK product certification now granted, Centrosolar is looking to ship its products from their plant in Wismar, Germany to the UK where demand for solar systems has grown exponentially through the summer.

Centrosolar are more than aware of the positive affects which strong incentives can have on renewable energy and in particular, PV. Germany has been one of the world’s leaders in solar energy uptake over the last ten years thanks to the strong tariff legislation which has attracted investment in its renewable industries.

With a view to twinning German solar engineering with local market knowledge, Centrosolar have recruited Simon Gerrard, former Head of Sales for Solarcentury to run its UK operations. With daily news updates reporting on the ever-growing success of the UK feed-in tariff, it is very likely that not only will Centrosolar build a strong bridgehead, but others are likely to follow suit before too long.

Since the feed-in-tariff came into place in April there have been a large number of companies looking to sign up land owners to option agreements to build solar famers on their land. Now this can be an excellent way for a farmer/land owner to maximise the income they generate and also to diversify their income. Typically the option will be a rental agreement lasting for 25 years where a fixed fee is paid or a percentage of the FIT is offered. The yield will almost always be multiples of what could be made by farming the land sounds great so where is the catch?

The catch is that the site has to be built and producing energy by March 2012 to be viable, so with planning timescales this means you have just one chance with one company to generate this income. Some of the companies out there signing land owners up don’t have any intention of building the sites instead they are looking to get the option agreement signed and sell it on to a company with the infrastructure in place at a profit. This means if they don’t manage to sell the option on the site will not be built and the land owner will miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to benefit from the feed in tariff.

So what should you look for?

Proof of funding is the most important element. If a company contacts you and the cannot prove they have funding in place do not deal with them. Whatever they offer you is irrelevant as they don’t have the means to build the site. I would also ask whether the company providing the finance (generally investment bank etc) has invested in green energy before and if they have any other solar projects up and running. This reduces the risk of funding being pulled at a later stage.

Next most important is which company is building the site and what experience do they have in large scale solar farms? Ensure the company has experience in building solar farms and preferably as some running effectively in other solar markets such as Spain or Germany.

Ensure the company has experience in dealing with planning issues on renewable energy. This is important with the tight time scale of the FIT . Once again you have only one shot at getting the site built on the land and you want someone with experience to ensure the process runs smoothly.

Finally look at what the companies are offering you financially, dependant on where you are in the country and grid connection costs a rough guideline is between £500-£1000 per year per acre. If the company offers much less than this you are being short changed. If the company offers much more than this alarm bells should be ringing as the project is unlikely to be viable and therefore you may miss out on your chance to utilise the FIT.

We work with a company who have everything in place to ensure a smooth solar farm build. If you would like any further information please email me at

An article published in the Financial Times last week has vividly highlighted just what effect the recently introduced feed-in tariff has had on the UK solar industry. The news that record numbers of people have decided to install solar panels is largely due to the feed-in tariff legislation which offers installers a healthy return on investment, off-setting the costs of buying and fitting the kit.

The figures published in the FT last Tuesday taken from Ofgem state that this month alone, more than 2,200 homes have fitted solar panels compared to 1,700 last month and 1,400 in June. Indeed, with figures that more than 6,600 households have installed solar panels since the introduction of the tariff system it is good evidence that this incentive scheme could herald the beginning of a boom in the UK solar industry.

Unsurprisingly, The Financial Times paid particular emphasis to the obvious financial rewards associated with solar installation rather than environmental benefits. With the case example of John Keown, a company director who invested in solar through a scheme offered by British Gas, a good case was made for the long term viability of solar PV projects.

Keown will be set to reap the benefits of solar energy installation with expected returns of £1000 per year through savings on electricity bills and revenue from the tariff. Keown for example has estimated that since he installed his solar panels in April he has made £289 from the feed-in tariff. He stated,

“I haven’t gone into self-produced energy to be green. I’ve gone into it because I think it’s a good financial saving, perhaps even better than having an Isa account.”

Certainly, it seems to be growing in the public consciousness that the installation of solar panels to households is more than just a green fad or something which can bring about negligible carbon footprint reductions. The high rates of return which can be achieved through solar panels is likely to attract investors exponentially in the future as word catches on that sourcing and installing a solar system doesn’t have to be painful process.