NESF toasts completion of maiden subsidy-free solar asset

By Liam Stoker, Editor, Solar Power Portal. The article appeared on 14 November 2019.

NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF) is celebrating the successful connection of its maiden subsidy-free solar farm, claiming it to be the first by a listed investment company.

The 5.4MW Hall Farm II project was energised on 5 August 2019 having started construction in March, and NESF is already turning its attentions to a second subsequent subsidy-free project of a much larger scale.

Hall Farm II is built adjacent to NESF’s existing Hall Farm solar array and, as such, benefitted from an oversized planning application and existing grid infrastructure, the fund said, helping with project economics.

Nevertheless, NESF championed the farm’s connection as a development which gives the firm “industry leadership in this space”.

NESF, which remains among the UK’s top solar investors, first publicly targeted subsidy-free solar in the UK last June, before boosting its pipeline of subsidy-free prospects to around 470MW before the turn of the year.

It then confirmed in June this year that build-out at Hall Farm II had commenced, while also indicating that construction of the 50MW Staughton project, which sits on the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire border, was also set to begin.

At that size, Staughton stands to be the most significant project in NESF’s stable and the company now expects that to complete before the end of this financial year.

“These achievements are notable as they demonstrate the economic case for subsidy-free solar PV assets in the UK compared to other energy generation technologies, many of which still require extensive and expensive subsidies,” the company said.

The announcement came within NESF’s interim results for the six-months ended 30 September 2019, a period which saw electricity generation surge some 5% ahead of expectations on the back of higher than forecast irradiation.