Image: Shell.

Shell has suggested it will become the next major oil firm to enter the new build solar market after it was reported over the weekend that the Dutch giant plans to build solar farms in Britain.

The Times (paywall) reported on Saturday that the company was planning to enter the UK’s competitive energy market through the acquisition of gas-fired power plants and construction of both solar and wind farms.

Royal Dutch Shell has been making some moves in the solar market both in the UK, where it recently agreed a deal to become the sole off-taker of England’s largest solar farm, and globally.

Last month the oil and gas firm acquired a 43.83% interest stake in US solar developer Silicon Ranch Corporation to accelerate growth by developing new projects, entering new markets, and expanding product offerings.

Shell is also developing a 20MW solar farm in the Netherlands through its New Energies Business, while reports emerged last summer that the company was assessing the viability of a 250MW solar PV plant in Australia.

Should the reports prove true, Shell would become the latest major fossil fuel company to seek to build solar in the UK after BP re-entered the global solar market by buying a stake in Lightsource.

The emergence of these global firms in the solar market recently led to a discussion at last month's Solar Media’s Solar Finance and Investment Europe conference about the role of existing solar developers in the face of such competition.

Representatives from both NextEnergy Capital and Octopus Investments claimed there was a major opportunity for solar firms to work hand in hand with their emerging competitors to utilise their huge balance sheets and project experience.

However, Camborne Energy Storage commercial director Hassen Bali suggested that the new urgency for solar development from these oil majors may fade as other interests take hold.