NextEnergy Capital (NEC), the European Merchant Bank operating in the renewable energy and clean technology sector, has once again reiterated its commitment to the development of the UK solar PV industry with the appointment of Jannie Retief as its Managing Director for UK Operations. The company continues to concentrate on the UK’s solar market, despite the confusion caused by a surprise ‘fast-track review’ of the UK feed-in tariff mechanism.

Retief, a veteran of the UK renewable energy industry, will lead the development of up to three industrial-scale solar PV installations of between 3 to 5MW each. NEC planned to have the installations connected to the grid by mid-summer 2011, with the aim of working towards the UK’s 2020 renewable targets. Dr. Retief, who was formerly a Director at Renewable Energy Holdings, will also be responsible for progressing NEC’s pipeline of residential installations. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the British Energy Association.

Commenting on the acceleration of the Government’s review of feed-in tariffs, Aldo Beolchini, CFO at NextEnergy Capital, said: “This makes it extremely difficult to invest in UK solar with confidence. Nonetheless NextEnergy Capital remains committed to completing the development of our most advanced solar projects in which we have already invested a significant proportion of time and resources, and expect to be able to start construction of the first of three plants shortly.

“It would make sense for the Review to grandfather those projects which have genuinely commenced construction by a specified date and where the developer is serious about a rapid completion, a move that would help reassure current and future investors.”

Michael Bonte-Friedheim, joint-CEO and co-Founder of NEC said, “Despite current uncertainty, NextEnergy Capital is in the UK for the long-term. We will progress a number of industrial-scale installations at brown field sites, we will continue our financial advisory work in the solar space and we will consider strategies for the support of residential installations. We are thrilled that Jannie has joined the team and will drive forward our commitment to the UK solar industry.”

Jannie Retief, Managing Director for UK Operations at NEC said, “There is vast potential for growth in the UK solar PV sector. This industry is capable of creating up to 100,000 new jobs and delivering affordable and secure low carbon energy.

“NextEnergy Capital will play a lead role in all forms of UK solar. But only large-scale industrial projects can bring the critical mass and investment needed for this sector to truly grow up. In more mature European markets – in Italy and Germany – we now see residential installations carry the baton for future growth. But this would not have been possible without a solid foundation of industrial projects behind them. The UK must learn from its European neighbours – both in terms of what to do and what not to do. With the right measures in place, the UK can allow the serious players and long-term investors to initiate an industry that is the envy of Europe.”

Further underlining its commitment to the UK, NextEnergy Capital last week gathered more than 200 UK solar investors and developers for a series of discussions on how the nascent UK solar industry can learn from the lessons seen in other, more developed, European markets.