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Martifer Opens Five Projects in Record Quarter for U.K. Solar

Martifer SGPS SA, Portugal’s second-largest renewable energy developer, plans to build more U.K. solar parks after completing its first five and after a record quarter for the industry in the island nation.

The company opened photovoltaic plants in southwestern England with a combined 28.1 megawatts and plans to develop a similar amount this year, said Joao Cunha, U.K. country manager. The plants, completed in the last week of March, were sold to Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd. for an average 1.2 million pounds ($1.8 million) a megawatt, he said.

“The U.K. solar market is quite attractive, even with the lower banding” since April 1, Cunha said in an interview today. “It’s reliable and predictable.” About 1,000 to 1,100 megawatts in new capacity is expected here this year, he said.

Developers in the U.K. rushed to complete solar parks before subsidy cuts started in April. Plants totaling at least 350 megawatts were built in the first quarter, including a record number of large ground-based projects, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. About 800 megawatts were built in the whole of 2012, mostly on residential rooftops.

So-called renewable obligation certificates, or green certificates, that ground-mounted solar projects earn for each megawatt of power generated were cut to 1.6 from 2 on April 1, reducing earnings for investors.

Martifer’s solar parks, located in Cornwall, Hampshire, Devon and Wiltshire, have 4.4 megawatts to 6.6 megawatts of capacity each and use Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. panels, according to Cunha. Martifer plans to choose further sites for projects by the end of the month, he said.

The company, which builds solar parks on four continents, began working on the U.K. projects in early 2011. Martifer, based in Oliveira de Frades, will operate the facilities for Lightsource, a London-based solar energy generator.

Portugal’s biggest developer of clean-energy projects is EDP Renovaveis SA.

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