Trend for direct marketing of solar power in UK

Operated according to private wire power purchase agreements (PPAs), the two power stations, Haigh Hall near Wakefield and Gilleys Dam in Cornwall, each have a total capacity of five megawatt. The solar power purchasers are two manufacturing companies that operate factories in the local area and have contracted under PPAs to purchase electricity over a period of 15 or 20 years. Athos Solar owns and operates one of the stations; the other was sold to an institutional investor.

Private wire PPA as win-win situation

 “The PPA is a very advantageous model for both sides. The direct customers benefit from eco-friendly, affordable electricity. As project developers and power suppliers, we have the assurance that we can operate the plant profitably for many years to come. This is a real win-win situation”, explains Christian Linder, Managing Director of Athos Solar. “The needs and financial standing of the customers are key factors since contracts are concluded for a period of 15 or more years. These conditions are also decisive when it comes to refinancing options or the saleability of a solar park.”

Decentralized approach

In the context of private wire PPAs, companies from the local area agree to fixed conditions for long-term purchasing of the electricity generated by a solar park. The project developer retains ownership of the plant and supplies 100% of the produced power to the local customer without any diversions through the public power grid. Completed in 2017, the Haigh Hall power station near Wakefield is already operating under a PPA. Athos Solar converted six hectares of poor-quality farmland into a modern, five-megawatt peak solar park. All of the electricity generated is supplied to the nearby Coca-Cola plant in Wakefield. “Coca-Cola European Partners have made a commitment to only purchase electricity from certified renewable sources,” explains Nick Brown, Head of Sustainability, Coca-Cola European Partners. “The PPA at Wakefield has helped us achieve this goal with confidence and certainty over future supplies for our business.”

The second plant, Gilleys Dam in Cornwall, also operates based on a private wire PPA. The electricity is purchased by the Imerys Minerals mining company. Built in 2016 on eight hectares of a former landfill site, Gilleys Dam also has a capacity of five megawatt peak.

Business model for the future

Athos Solar invested a total of about €12.5 million in the power stations. Some 16,000 solar modules are installed in each of the two solar parks. The construction company commissioned for both projects is the Spanish Grupo Zaragozá. “In the future, we plan to use the private wire PPA model in the UK more frequently and are already looking for interested companies”, explains Christian Linder. (HCN)

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