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Solar Finance and Investment Europe 2019

February 5, 2019

Solar Finance and Investment Europe 2019 is over, and it was a conference full of insights and networking. Natural Power’s industry experts had a lot of great conversations, but a few key trends stood out.

Energy storage

The UK solar industry is surprisingly bearish when it comes to energy storage. Conference attendees were hesitant towards exposure to merchant risk. They cited poor revenues from the capacity and frequency response markets as reasons for not pursuing energy storage more aggressively. While some hesitation is understandable, others argued that stacked value streams still present a compelling use case. Meter energy storage that utilises a combination of customer-facing services, such as red zone avoidance and power quality guarantees along with capacity and ancillary services, would seem to merit thinking about. Finance-grade offtakers, like water utilities and large commercial customers, are also helpful in making the financial numbers work. We are sure these topics, and others, will be hotly discussed at the upcoming UK Energy Storage Summit. As a sponsor, Natural Power is looking forward to sharing its market insights and recent case studies.

Subsidy free solar

The audience was more receptive when it came to UK subsidy free solar. The UK solar market seems ready to embrace a new era of subsidy free solar. With an expected 300MW-500MW to be deployed this year, there is quite a bit of interest and activity after a slow market in recent years. There are still things to consider, of course, as the high margins formerly allowed by subsidies shrink into the 5%-8% range.

Operations and asset management

The audience focused on the importance of good operations and asset management to get the best possible value from new and existing projects. Financiers will also need the help of technical advisers like Natural Power. We can ensure that projects meet the best possible design and installation standards, as there is little margin for error in a post-subsidy world. Some panellists also pointed out the importance of having a diverse portfolio that includes solar, wind and other technologies that complement each other. Our team at Natural Power agrees. In fact, we have just released a new white paper that explores these portfolio benefits in greater detail. It was certainly good to hear the European solar industry acknowledging the value of partnership among the various renewable energy technologies.

Module technologies

The industry is excited about new advances in module technologies: Mono PERC and bifacial modules (for more information on bifacial modules click here). Despite these advances, most financiers see technology risk in photovoltaics (PV) as low; however, adding innovative technologies remains something financiers view with some caution.

Overall, the European solar market is strong and showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to the UK, there was also a strong interest in the Spanish, French, Dutch and Polish solar markets. We are working in these markets and watching them closely. Now, our team sets its sights on the UK Storage Summit and looks forward to seeing all of you there.

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