Foresight Solar Fund predicting sub-5MW project boom

Foresight Solar Fund, the UK-based PV yield-co investor, is expecting a large part of its future growth to come from the development of a market for sub-5MW projects.

In its latest trading update, the company said it was already seeing the development of an active secondary market for projects over 5MW and anticipated “large pipelines” of new sub-5MW projects being develop in the UK after March this year.

The UK has seen a boom in large-scale PV project development over the past two years as investors have sought to cash in on the steady market conditions, propelling it to the top of the European solar market league table in 2014.

However, after March this year the UK’s main support mechanism for large projects, the renewable obligation certificate (ROC) will close to projects over 5MW, which will instead have to compete under the new ‘contracts for difference’ (CfD) programme.

The company said the combination of the healthy plus-5MW secondary market and the anticipated growth in new sub-5MW projects post-March 2015 meant it expected to sustain its recent growth rate.

Since floating on the London Stock Exchange in October 2013, the Foresight Solar Fund has built up a portfolio of 10 UK projects with a 231MW capacity, and which include four of the country’s six largest plants. Its latest acquisitions, in December 2014, were Belectric’s 46MW Landmead plant in Oxfordshire and the 37MW Bournemouth project.

Amid reports of intense competition for contracts under the CfD programme, other UK players are similarly anticipating an increase in the number of sub-5MW projects being built, as they will continue to qualify for the ROC.

In October last year, Robert Goss, the UK boss of international developer, Conergy, told Solar Power Portal, that he expected a “reasonable” number of projects of this scale to continue to be built under the ROC.