Bentley Solar Developer Plans $623 Million U.K. Investment

Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd., the U.K. developer that installed a sun-power project on the roof of Bentley Motors Ltd., may invest as much as 400 million pounds ($623 million) this year in U.K. solar facilities.

Britain’s largest solar park developer said it expects to install as much as 300 megawatts worth of facilities in the year starting today, or about 40 projects, said Nick Boyle, chief executive officer of the London-based company.

“We’re working on about 140 megawatts of projects at the moment that will reach financial close before July,” he said in an interview in London. “We have a very large pipeline of self-developed projects and a large number of other sites that we’re in negotiations to buy off third parties.” Each project is about 5 to 15 megawatts in capacity and will take about nine months to build.

Britain aims to install as much as 22 gigawatts of solar energy by 2020 as part of a target to get 15 percent of its energy from renewables by the same year. The country offers predictable revenue streams for investors because of government subsidies and long-term power-purchase agreements that guarantee prices, Murphy said.

While the company’s core focus is the U.K., it plans to start looking at other jurisdictions this year where renewable energy gets similar support, he said. He will consider countries that are “safe” and “predictable,” such as Germany, France and the U.S. Lightsource last year bought 66 sites in France for 94 million euros ($124 million).

Lightsource works with London-based Octopus Investments Ltd. to raise money for its projects, mostly through Enterprise Investment Schemes that offer tax breaks for investors in higher-risk companies. The average investor contributes about 18,000 pounds, Murphy said. Lightsource currently operates about 300 megawatts of projects.

The 20,000-panel 5-megawatt installation for Bentley is the largest rooftop solar power plant in the U.K., according to the company.