Busy December for Lightsource as it prepares subsidy-free sites

Lightsource Renewable Energy was able to connect 23 new solar sites in December 2015 as it prepares to deliver its first subsidy-free sites in 2016.

The new sites, which totalled more than 100MW in new capacity, were all supported by government schemes, with 14 connected under the feed-in tariff (FIT) and the remaining nine installations connected under the Renewable Obligations Certificate scheme.

Nick Boyle, chief executive of Lightsource, said: “Despite the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the industry in recent months, we've seen a great many successes in 2015 and this latest round of connections is a great way for us to end the year. We are certainly no stranger to tough deadlines and difficult weather conditions, but it's a huge testament to the capabilities of our in-house teams that we are able to complete such a mammoth task in a very short period of time.”

Plans are in place to deliver a further 14 ground-mounted installations worth an additional 92MW by 31 March. This will take Lightsource’s total installed UK capacity to 1.3GW before the company sets out to deliver its first subsidy free installations later this year.

Following the UK government’s decision to cut subsidies for UK solar, Lightsource is to gain financial backing for its new sites from a private-wire Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which will see its new sites “hard-wired” into large electricity users.

“Whilst we are still taking stock of the recent government announcements concerning solar subsidies, we have big plans for 2016 and expect it to be another busy year. The UK solar industry has made great strides towards a subsidy-free environment,” Boyle added.

“During the FiT and ROC regimes, we have worked hard to drive down costs and built a solid base of knowledge and expertise, which has prepared us for developing our first large-scale sites free of government support. However, it’s a great shame that the cuts to FIT will mean that domestic and commercial & industrial rooftop solar will not be able to enjoy the same success.”

New solar FIT rates are due to come into force on 8 February and will run until March 31 when quarterly degressions will begin. A reduction in support under the ROC scheme is also set to be introduced, with ground-mounted projects accredited between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017 to receive a 1.2 banding rate.