Solar investment 'still worthwhile' despite tariff cuts

By Adrian Bishop - 06 Aug 2012 8:16:47 GMT
Solar investment 'still worthwhile' despite tariff cuts

More than 7,000 solar panels installed on the roof of Promens Packaging's in Beccles, Suffolk; Credit: © Lightsource Renewable Energy

Leading fund management specialist Octopus Investments says it is still worth investing in solar projects, despite the latest cuts in solar tariffs.

Anyone installing solar panels now receives 16p for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated through solar feed-in tariffs (FiT), 5p less than before and the subsidy lasts for 20 years instead of 25 years.

Octopus' Green Energy department says although the full impact of FiT is yet to be revealed, there is still a compelling case for alternative energy investment.

In partnership with Lightsource Renewable Energy, Britain's biggest solar energy provider, Octopus has generated investment of around £300 million for UK developments since 2011, making it one of the biggest solar investors in the country.

Octopus investment manager Kat Johnston says, "The first of August deadline is a milestone, but it doesn't spell the end for the solar energy sector. Far from it. The reduction in FiT rates was inevitable given that solar technology is getting cheaper. We think that solar still has a great future and remains a key part of the UK's renewable energy commitment.

"Octopus has worked hard over the last eighteen months to support the Government's commitment to renewable energy. It is now a rapidly growing market that is positively impacting the economy, including creating opportunities for UK smaller businesses."

Given its success in the solar energy sector, Octopus Investments is aiming to work on renewable energy generation and efficiency projects in other sectors.

Octopus recently teamed up with Geothermal International, which is installing ground source heat pumps in selected Sainsbury supermarket sites. Many more UK companies and organisations are looking to introduce green energy initiatives due to the Government's aim to boost renewable energy to 15% of the national total by 2020.

Octopus Investments' expert staff combine their experience in renewables with their fundraising ability in Enterprise Investment, Venture Capital Trust and Inheritance Tax Service products. This enables investors in UK renewable energy projects to take advantage of attractive, stable returns, sector subsidies and help boost the country's reliance on green power, it says.

Among Octopus and Lightsource's other large UK solar power schemes is one at the home to the BBC TV Top Gear racetrack, Dunsfold Park, Surrey.

London-based Octopus says it will go on developing sites that will gain benefits from FiTs and will also back investments in other renewables projects.

Lightsource Renewable Energy specialises in taking unused buildings and land and completing projects to create electricity using solar power. Lightsource is not connected with a solar energy supplier, but has all the skills to complete PV schemes.

Once a lease is agreed, it aims to complete each solar energy project within three months, including planning and construction.

Typically from entering into a lease agreement with a roof/land owner, we expect to have an operational solar energy project within 3 months. This includes the planning process and construction of the project.

Twelve months after Lightsource Renewable Energy installed 7,000 solar panels at Promens Packaging in Beccles, Suffolk (top image) - the UK's largest rooftop solar installation - the project has produced 1.2 million Kilowatt hours of renewable energy.

Lightsource leased the roof area and installed the solar panels for free. Promens Packaging has cut its electricity costs by £50,000 in the first year through buying cheaper renewable power from Lightsource. It generated 1.2GWh, used 970 MWh and sold 191 MWh to the national grid and hopes to do even better over the next 12 months.

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Topics: Solar Energy / Renewable Energy