Image: BSIF’s existing Norfolk Solar Farm.

Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF) has heralded the arrival of subsidy-free utility-scale solar in the UK, confirming it has dipped its toe into the waters with a handful of pipeline agreements.

The solar investor confirmed in its results disclosure last week that it had reached a “select number of agreements”, and it was now working through a viable pipeline of potential projects with its developer and contractor partners.

BSIF said the new market of subsidy-free solar is “well suited” to its approach of working alongside project developers and contractors, but would put far greater emphasis on its ability to manage power revenues in the absence of subsidy payments.

Bluefield joins a growing list of financiers and developers that have acknowledged their ability to fund utility-scale solar assets on a purely merchant basis. NextEnergy Solar Fund has previously guided that it expects to complete its maiden subsidy-free solar farm later this year, with other projects expected to commence almost immediately afterwards.

Solar Power Portal understands further developments of operational, subsidy-free solar farms in the UK could be forthcoming as early as next month.

Solar Media’s in-house market research team has previously forecasted that as much as 500MW of subsidy-free solar could be built this year as the pipeline of projects in planning exceeds the 5GW mark.

Bluefield’s announcement comes amidst an “excellent” performance of its existing portfolio in the year ended 30 June 2019, with profits rising more than 15% to £33 million in the year.

John Rennocks, chairman at BSIF, said: “We are delighted to deliver another strong set of results for our shareholders. Record earnings support our highest ever dividend, value enhancement activities support our highest ever Net Asset Value and the arrival of the non-subsidised market looks set to offer a significant opportunity for the next phase of growth for the company. Much to be pleased about and much more to look forward to”