Solar is Hot in Britain? Combination of subsidies, public support, and creative finance

Saw this WSJ article that Solar Energy is Hot in Britain.

Britain Is Solar-Energy Hot Spot

Subsidies, Public Support and Creative Finance Benefit Solar

Argus Hardy walks among the fields of his farm in Great Glemham, Suffolk, recently turned into a solar power field by Allianz. Alex Masi for The Wall Street Journal

SUFFOLK, England—Alongside the old airfield here, ripening barley shifts in the breeze. Across the way, a more static crop stretches into the distance: 80,000 solar panels, their silvery surfaces facing south.

We are used to hearing about solar projects in Spain which have crashed due to the end of subsidies.  Other parts of Europe have been known for Solar and you wouldn’t think Britain would due to clouds and rain.

Britain, a land of cloudy skies and reliable rain, is fast becoming the hottest spot in Europe for many investors in solar energy. Germany is overcrowded with panels. A sudden end to subsidies killed Spanish solar. A sluggish economy is dragging on Italy.

Britain has grown substantially.

In 2010, there were under 100 megawatts of solar capacity in the U.K.—barely enough to power the homes of a modest town. Now, there is between 3.2 and 4 gigawatts. This year, market-research firm Solarbuzz projects that the U.K. will overtake Germany as Europe's largest installer of solar panels, putting in 6% of the world's new solar.


The part that got my attention is the focus on the creative financing to make solar projects work.

"The U.K. solar sector is probably at the forefront of capital innovation in the global renewables sector," said Ben Warren, head of environmental finance at EY. "It's one of the very few areas where institutional investors are looking at making direct investments."

Several developers have also issued "solar bonds" to fund building, with private individuals investing through companies such as Abundance Generation, which adopts acrowdfunding model to connect investors with small projects—among them a plan to put panels on the roofs of schoolhouses.

Exchange-listed funds that offer exposure to solar have also sprung up in the U.K., among them Foursight Solar, Bluefield Solar Income FundBSIF.LN -0.24%NextEnergy Solar Fund and investment company The Renewables Infrastructure GroupTRIG.LN -0.17% which have all listed on the London Stock ExchangeLSE.LN -0.26% in the past two years. Bluefield raised £130 million at its initial public offering and has since raised more money for acquisitions.