26 February 2015

Solar fried in CfD auction

Solar energy construction in the UK is set to be decimated after the technology failed to compete with wind power in a £325 million ($503 million) auction under the government's new subsidy system.

Wind emerged as the big winner in the first auction under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) regime, the results of which were announced today (see table), whereas only five solar projects won funding.

Overall, the CfD auction procured 2.1GW of capacity set to come online in the next six years, with the lion's share won by wind.

Solar took 71.6MW, or about 3% of the overall capacity granted. Onshore wind, which was in direct competition with solar under the auction rules, took 748.6MW, or a third of the overall capacity granted.

Offshore wind took up 1.2GW, or more than half of the capacity, driven by the success of two large projects – Iberdrola and Vattenfall's East Anglia Phase 1 (714MW) and Mainstream's Neart na Gaoithe (448MW).


The solar industry hit out at the way the auction was organised. It is not only annoyed that solar was in direct competition with onshore wind, but also that the existing subsidy, the Renewables Obligation (RO), will be closed to solar PV from April - two years earlier than it is withdrawn from other renewables technologies.

Paul Barwell: Not a successful policy"The soon-to-be cheapest and most popular renewable – solar power – has lost out in a complex auction scheme that favours big players and genuinely established technologies," said Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association. "Is a policy that trips up the UK's emerging solar industry really a successful policy? We don't think so."

He added that as a result of the CfD auction just 32MW of large-scale solar will be built in the next financial year.

This compares to some 2-3GW of large-scale solar estimated to be built in the current year, as developers scramble to complete projects ahead of the 'RO cliff'.

Alex Fornal, head of project development at solar company Juwi, which made three competitive bids, said: "Wind has apparently taken all or most of what was already a miniscule CfD budget. If there were any successful solar farms they have taken up whatever "crumbs" were left over."

He added: "We are very disappointed but we will now look to the next government to apply a more sensible budget to the next allocation round this coming October - a budget that is fit for purpose and that provides the support for solar that it deserves."

Charles Yates of CmY Consulting said: "I think that privately solar developers will be pleased that they have got some CfD projects – we now have to wait to see if they are profitable at these levels of subsidy."


Under the rules of the auction, there were two pots of money up for grabs:

  • Pot one: £65 million for 'established technologies' (onshore wind, solar photovoltaic, energy from waste with combined heat and power, hydro (>5MW and <50MW), landfill gas and sewage gas.
  • Pot two: £260 million for 'less-established technologies' (offshore wind, wave, tidal stream, advanced conversion technologies, anaerobic digestion, dedicated biomass with combined heat and power, and geothermal).

Charles Yates: Wait and seeYates told Environmental Finance that solar development will "pause for breath" from April. However, he said there will still be significant development of projects smaller than 5MW, which will still be eligible for Feed-in Tariff support. In particular, developers will focus on rooftop solar on large commercial buildings, he added.

He pointed out that there were no winners from the hydro, anaerobic digestion or wave and tidal sectors. "What is the future for these technologies?" he asked.

He said that the future may be difficult for offshore wind projects that entered unsuccessful bids, and speculated that the stalled 504MW Galloper project may be in this position.

"I think having spent millions developing their projects they will rebid at least once but how much further money will they invest in their projects before they get a CfD?" he added.

Project Name
Strike Price (£)
Delivery Year
BHEG Walsall BH EnergyGap (Walsall) Ltd Advanced Conversion Technologies 26 114.39 2018-2019
Energy Works (Hull) Energy Works (Hull) Limited Advanced Conversion Technologies 25 119.89 2017-2018
Enviroparks Hirwaun Generation Site Enviroparks Operations Ltd Advanced Conversion Technologies 11 119.89 2017-2018
Wren Power and Pulp Gent Fairhead & Co. Ltd Energy from Waste with CHP 49.75 80 2018-2019
K3 CHP Facility K3CHP Ltd Energy from Waste with CHP 45 80 2018-2019
EA 1 Scottishpower Renewables (UK) Limited Offshore Wind 714 119.89 2017-2018
Neart na Gaoithe Neart na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Limited Offshore Wind 448 114.39 2018-2019
Dorenell Wind Farm Dorenell Limited Onshore Wind 177 82.5 2018-2019
Kype Muir Wind Farm Banks Renewables (Kype Muir Wind Farm) Limited Onshore Wind 104 82.5 2018-2019
Clocaenog Forest Wind Farm RWE Innogy UK Limited Onshore Wind 96 82.5 2018-2019
Middle Muir Wind Farm Banks Renewables (Middle Muir Wind Farm) Limited Onshore Wind 60 82.5 2018-2019
Brenig Wind Farm - Brenig Wind Limited Brenig Wind Limited Onshore Wind 45 79.23 2016-2017
Mynydd Y Gwair Wind Farm RWE Innogy UK Limited Onshore Wind 40 79.99 2017-2018
Nanclach Wind Farm Nanclach Limited Onshore Wind 39.1 82.5 2018-2019
Solwaybank Wind Farm Solwaybank Energy Limited Onshore Wind 37.5 82.5 2018-2019
Sneddon Law Community Wind Farm Sneddon Law Community Wind Company Limited Onshore Wind 37.5 79.99 2017-2018
Coire Na Cloiche Windfarm Coire Na Cloiche Windfarm LLP Onshore Wind 30 82.5 2018-2019
Bad a Cheo Wind Farm RWE Innogy UK Limited Onshore Wind 29.9 82.5 2018-2019
Tralorg Wind Farm PNE WIND UK Ltd Onshore Wind 20 82.5 2018-2019
Moor House Wind Farm Banks Renewables (Moor House Wind Farm) Limited Onshore Wind 16.4 82.5 2018-2019
Achlachan Wind Farm Achlachan Wind Farm LLP Onshore Wind 10 82.5 2018-2019
Common Barn Wind Farm Common Barn Wind Farm Ltd Onshore Wind 6.15 82.5 2018-2019
Wick Farm Solar Park Hadstone Energy Limited Solar PV 19.1 50 2015-2016
Charity Farm Lightsource SPV136 Limited Solar PV 14.67 79.23 2016-2017
Royston Solar Farm ROYSTON SOLAR FARM LIMITED Solar PV 13.78 50 2015-2016
Netley Landfill Solar REG Netley Solar Ltd Solar PV 12 79.23 2016-2017
Triangle Farm Solar Park Cambridgeshire County Council Solar PV 12 79.23 2016-2017

Peter Cripps