NextEnergy Capital Reiterates Commitment to UK Solar Industry

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The firm, already a major player in the Italian solar market, has announced the appointment of Jannie Retief as its Managing Director for UK Operations.

· Firm gathers hundreds of UK developers and investors to share lessons from Italian solar roll-out

· Merchant Bank believes industrial scale solar is fundamental to meeting the UK’s 2020 renewable targets and suggests grandfathering rules for serious developers

· Jannie Retief appointed as Managing Director for UK Operations

London, UK

NextEnergy Capital, the European Merchant Bank operating at the cutting-edge of the renewable energy and clean technology sector, has reiterated its commitment to the development of a UK solar PV industry, despite the confusion caused by a surprise ‘fast-track review’ of the UK Feed-In Tariff mechanism.

The firm, already a major player in the Italian solar market, has announced the appointment of Jannie Retief as its Managing Director for UK Operations. Dr. Retief, a veteran of the UK renewable energy industry, will lead the development of up to three industrial-scale solar PV installations of between 3 – 5 MW each. NEC planned to have the installations connected to the Grid by mid-summer 2011, in the belief that the industrial scale solar can accelerate the UK’s progress against its 2020 renewable targets. Dr. Retief will also be responsible for progressing NEC’s pipeline of residential installations.

NextEnergy Capital underlined its commitment to the sector last week by gathering more than 200 UK solar investors and developers for a series of discussions on how the nascent UK solar industry can learn from the lessons seen in other, more developed, European markets.

Commenting on the acceleration of the Government’s review of feed-in tariffs, Aldo Beolchini, CFO at NextEnergy Capital, said: “This makes it extremely difficult to invest in UK solar with confidence. Nonetheless NextEnergy Capital remains committed to completing the development of our most advanced solar projects in which we have already invested a significant proportion of time and resources, and expect to be able to start construction of the first of three plants shortly.

“It would make sense for the Review to grandfather those projects which have genuinely commenced construction by a specified date and where the developer is serious about a rapid completion, a move that would help reassure current and future investors.”

Stefano Sommadassi, joint-CEO and co-Founder of NEC said: “Clearly the review of feed-in tariffs announced by DECC last week is a cause of great concern across the entire industry. At our conference, investors already involved in the development of significant pipelines of UK solar installations were uncertain as to the future of these projects. Without further clarity from Government, it is impossible to deploy the large investment strategies needed to kick-start this industry and create the economies of scale that will lead us to Grid-parity.”

Michael Bonte-Friedheim, joint-CEO and co-Founder of NEC said:”Despite current uncertainty, NextEnergy Capital is in the UK for the long-term. We will progress a number of industrial-scale installations at brownfield sites, we will continue our financial advisory work in the solar space and we will consider strategies for the support of residential installations. We are thrilled that Jannie has joined the team and will drive forward our commitment to the UK solar industry.”

Jannie Retief, Managing Director for UK Operations at NEC said: “There is vast potential for growth in the UK solar PV sector. This industry is capable of creating up to 100,000 new jobs and delivering affordable and secure low carbon energy.

“NextEnergy Capital will play a lead role in all forms of UK solar. But only large-scale industrial projects can bring the critical mass and investment needed for this sector to truly grow up. In more mature European markets – in Italy and Germany – we now see residential installations carry the baton for future growth. But this would not have been possible without a solid foundation of industrial projects behind them. The UK must learn from its European neighbours – both in terms of what to do and what not to do. With the right measures in place, the UK can allow the serious players and long-term investors to initiate an industry that is the envy of Europe.”

Dr Retief was formerly a Director at Renewable Energy Holdings, an owner and operator of renewable energy plants, including wind, wave, landfill gas, solar and gasification technologies. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the British Energy Association.

NextEnergy Capital’s Asset Development team has 750MW of solar PV under development in Italy, with 150MW expected to achieve full authorisation and construction in 2011, joining over 20MW of current installed capacity. Last week, the firm announced a venture that will use private investment to create sustainable, energy-independent communities across the region. Nineteen Italian municipalities have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a 500MW pipeline in excess of €1.5bn of investment.

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