Can we still bank on the sun – and expect healthy returns – in a post-Brexit world?
Despite the growth, benefits and popularity of community energy, those forging ahead with the transition to solar still face big challenges – whether putting solar panels on a school roof or building a solar farm to power a town. Brexit has dangled a giant question mark over the future of the renewable energy industry as much of our environmental legislation comes from Europe.
‘The falling pound will push build costs up, as the bulk of a solar installation’s cost is in euros’, Jake explains. ‘However, community energy installations that are up and running and benefit from an inflation-linked Feed-in Tariff may gain from rising inflation and energy costs, which are possible results of Brexit. That’s why we put the inflation protector into the interest terms for the Gawcott Fields Community Solar bond offer.’
FiT cuts cuts have also made it a lot harder to develop new community energy projects but, in a trend that will hopefully be sustained, community energy enterprises are buying operational renewable energy projects from commercial developers. ‘This is a great opportunity if the terms of the purchase result in a fair apportionment of value’, Jake says.
Over the last 18 months, CfR has managed the community ‘buy-back’ of £20m of solar projects – and it’s working on models to scale this up.