Octopus confirms future investment in UK solar

After supporting over 30MW of large-scale solar in the UK, Octopus Investments has confirmed its intention to make further investments in solar energy, with funding from some of its lower risk, capital preservation-focused investments.

Octopus hopes to place up to £120 million into Octopus EIS, an Enterprise Investment Scheme which is currently available to investors but will shortly be open to a new Venture Capital Trust (VCT).

With a minimum investment of just £3,000 for the VCT funds, this scheme is expected to be popular with smaller investors that recognise the opportunity solar provides, whilst also benefitting from the tax-efficient incentives both fund structures can currently provide. These projects are expected to be up to 50kW.

Octopus Managing Director Paul Latham said, “People haven’t missed out on the investment opportunity from solar, but now that the 1 August deadline for large scale solar farms has passed, the focus has turned to a portfolio of smaller solar installations. By smaller we mean sub-50kW sites, about the size of two tennis courts.

“Investments in solar currently qualify for both VCT and EIS tax benefits, although this is set to change after 5 April 2012. So there’s a limited opportunity for investors and they can’t afford to wait until next tax year. With investors able to invest in solar starting with as little as £3,000 this is substantially less than it would cost to install a solar array onto the roof of a house.”

The news follows the success of delivery of 11 large solar sites, which Octopus completed with the help of solar development partner Lightsource Renewable Energy. All of these sites were connected to the National Grid ahead of the August 1 feed-in tariff deadline.