Anesco has broken ground on one of the first large-scale solar parks since prohibitive cuts to the feed-in tariff were rushed through in August last year. The park represents the renewable energy company’s first step towards installing significant large-scale solar capacity across the UK.

The 5MW solar park, situated within the Cadland Estate at Fawley, is expected to be completed over the next seven weeks. The system will consist of almost 18,000 Trina 280W modules partnered with 165 PowerOne Aurora Trio-27.6kW inverters. The 30-acre installation is expected to generate enough green energy to power 1,000 local homes.

Anesco’s CEO, Adrian Pike, is no stranger to the solar industry having sat on the board of Solarcentury for three years as well as helping to pioneer free solar schemes. Speaking to Solar Power Portal, he outlined where he feels the future of solar in the UK lies: “2012 will be the year of the ground-mounted array. As well as the 5MW project in construction, Anesco has 1.5MW in planning at the moment with the possibility of another 12MW to build. Anesco will install 30MW easily in 2012 – probably more.”

Pike explained that after module costs came down by more than 50 percent in the past year, large-scale solar developments have become feasible under both the feed-in tariff (FiT) and Renewables Obligation (ROC) schemes.

“We will see a pipeline of large-scale solar over the next five years. People will naturally lurch towards two ROCs but, unlike social housing and commercial rooftops, schemes can take upwards of six months to set up. Developments under the FiT scheme are more certain at the moment and remain an attractive proposition to all concerned. However, funders are getting more comfortable with ROC,” he explained.

When addressing the current solar malaise, Pike subscribes to the view that industry was so successful in lobbying Government that it may have done itself more harm than good. He said: “When members of the public find out that I work in solar they say, ‘you do solar, how’s your company, are you going to survive?

“Anesco and a handful of other companies have gained credibility with their clients by not profiteering and scaremongering over FiT deadlines and cuts. Industry must start educating clients; currently there are a lot of mistruths surrounding solar.”

Interestingly, Pike largely supports the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s handling of solar FiTs. Pike believes that DECC had to intervene, saying that if it didn’t, the tariff would be lower now than it is and would certainly have killed industry. He points out that almost all FiT schemes across the world have seen some sort of drastic reduction due to the unforeseen module price crash and the UK is no different.  

Pike also defended Greg Barker’s actions, agreeing with the introduction of EPC requirements. Pike believes “the Minister showed vision,” evidenced by delaying the looming cut to the FiT. He opined that DECC has had its hands burned once before and will be watching installation much more closely now.

Pike exuded a genuine passion for solar, offering a slice of optimism in an industry often prone to focus on negatives. “Solar makes sense. I believe industry will reflect on what was just a blip in 12 months’ time, with fair margins and fair prices for all involved,” he continued.

“Change in the industry will happen, the key is to build great relationships with your supply chain and customers, keep your eye on the ball and take a holistic view to providing low-carbon energy. As for Anesco, we want to be here for the long-term. Solar has an important part to play in the future energy mix but it’s not about just one technology, it’s about blending technologies to provide an optimum solution.”