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EDF, Green Investment Group and Gore Street behind hundreds more megawatts of UK storage

By Liam Stoker, Molly Lempriere
EDF Renewables project Catalina Solar in Kern County, California. Image: EDF Renewables.

French utility EDF is launching a major solar-plus-battery storage hybrid initiative in England and Wales as part of plans to double its installed renewable base.

However EDF will not be alone, with an ex-state owned green investment fund having also unveiled plans to bring forward at least 1GW of subsidy-free solar farms in the UK, the majority of which are to be developed using trackers and bifacial panels.

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EDF Renewables’ UK division announced today that it has enlisted the help of Welsh developer Octo Energy to identify and deliver 200MW worth of co-located solar-storage projects throughout England and Wales.

Under the partnership, Octo will identify potential projects for EDF to deliver, collaborating with landowners and farmers in particular.

Mark Vyvyan-Robinson, director of solar and onshore wind development at EDF Renewables, said the utility was “regularly looking at innovative ways to invest in solar” while expanding its existing portfolio of sites in the UK, which stands at around 1GW, the firm said.

“These projects will enable us to contribute to the UK’s green economic recovery from COVID-19 and help the country reach its net zero targets,” he said.

The wider EDF Group has the established aim of operating a 50GW renewables portfolio by 2030 alongside another target of becoming Europe’s market leader in energy storage with an additional 10GW of storage by 2035.

And the firm has had a successful 2020 so far, having been widely reported as being behind the winning bid – alongside module manufacturer JinkoSolar – in Abu Dhabi’s tender to launch the 2GW Al Dhafra project in the Emirate. At US$0.0135/kWh, the winning tender is a world record low with a power purchase agreement (PPA) set to be signed later this year.

Performance within EDF Renewables also helped offset the impact of nuclear power outages which dampened the utility’s 2019 full year financial results, leading chief executive Jean-Bernard Lévy to say in February that the company was “forging ahead in all renewable energies”.

The company's energy trading desk in the UK is also operating and optimising the performance of battery energy storage systems across a range of market opportunities for several asset owners, most recently netting a deal to look after a 49.9MW battery project developed by Pivot Power – a company which EDF bought up in late 2019. 

Macquarie-owned GIG looking at 1GW subsidy-free solar and storage pipeline

Meanwhile, there were also further positive signs for a continued rebound in the UK’s solar market as Green Investment Group (GIG) – the Macquarie-owned investment fund formerly of the UK government – unveiled plans to develop 1GW of subsidy-free solar projects and additional battery storage facilities.

GIG has today announced a joint venture with UK-based renewables developer Enso Energy to bring forward a raft of unsubsidised solar farms, starting with an initial tranche of projects in England and Wales which are awaiting planning approval.

These projects will be backed by power purchase agreements and many of which, GIG said, would utilise trackers and bifacial solar modules to bolster the energy generation per area.

“The UK’s solar market holds huge potential to create green jobs and help the UK get closer to its aim of becoming a Net Zero economy. By combining GIG’s deep technical and financial capabilities with Enso’s highly experienced development team, our partnership has the skills and expertise to unlock that potential, bringing low-cost, low-carbon power to communities right across the UK,” Edward Northam, head of Green Investment Group Europe, said.

Investment fund Gore Street acquires another 131MW UK portfolio

In additional UK news, London Stock Exchange-listed energy storage investment fund, Gore Street Energy Storage Fund, has acquired a further 131MW energy storage portfolio, including an operational portfolio of 81MW.

The portfolio has been secured under exclusivity, following a competitive process according to the energy storage fund. The cash generating operational assets, which are located across Great Britain, are still subject to completion of successful due diligence that should be completed in mid-August.

These acquisitions follow on from Gore Street’s recent purchase of a 50MW energy storage system in Scotland. The company acquired an 100% share of the Ferrymuir Energy Storage Limited project following a strategic investment from JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation – Japan’s largest petroleum company. 

The company now has 151MW currently under exclusivity, which forms part of Gore Street's 900MW pipeline. It said that all of the newly acquired assets are anticipated to be competitive on pricing, and deliver returns in line with its targeted unlevered IRR of 10%.

EDF, Green Investment Group stories first appeared on PV Tech and are by Liam Stoker. 

Gore Street Capital story first appeared on Solar Power Portal and is by Molly Lempriere. 

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