Green Investment Group and Enso Energy team up on 1GW solar-plus-storage pipeline

JV will see developer and investor collaborate on PPA-backed solar projects across England and Wales.

Green Investment Group (GIG) and Enso Energy have formed a joint venture to build a 1GW pipeline of battery-backed solar projects across the UK.

Macquarie-owned investment banking giant GIG has revealed today it is working with the British renewables developer on an extensive pipeline of subsidy-free solar projects, all of which would be backed by power purchase agreements (PPAs) with UK businesses.

Projects across England and Wales are currently being submitted for planning approval, it said, while virtual community consultations are taking place to gauge local views on the proposed projects.

Sites will boast bifacial modules and advanced tracking technology that can maximise their energy yield while reducing their physical footprint, the companies said.

In addition, on-site battery storage facilities will ensure that projects have flexible output and address electricity demand during peak periods, while also providing auxiliary services to the grid.

Edward Northam, head of Green Investment Group Europe, toasted the partnership, which he said would help the UK meet its 2050 net zero emissions ambition.

“The UK’s solar market holds huge potential to create green jobs and help the UK get closer to its aim of becoming a net zero economy,” he said. “By combining GIG’s deep technical and financial capabilities with Enso’s highly experienced development team, our partnership has the skills and expertise to unlock that potential, bringing low-cost, low-carbon power to communities right across the UK.”

Ian Harding and Andrew King, the founders of Enso Energy, also welcomed the deal in a joint statement: “Both Macquarie’s Green Investment Group and Enso Energy are totally committed to an ambitious programme of large-scale solar development. This partnership brings together two organisations that share the same vision, to dramatically accelerate the delivery of the benefits of low-cost solar energy to communities up and down the country.”

The GIG was created by the UK government in 2012 to support green infrastructure projects that would struggle to find support through commercial markets. Previously named the Green Investment Bank, it was sold to Macquarie in 2017 in a £2.3bn deal that was criticised by opposition parties and environmental groups.

In related energy storage news, Siemens Energy revealed last week that it had entered a long-term partnership with Norwegian thermal battery company EnergyNest.

The partnership will allow Siemens Energy to incorporate EnergyNest’s proprietary Thermal Battery into its industrial projects.

The technology, which is charged using clean energy, temporarily stores excess energy in the form of hot air from a tunnel furnace. The stored heat is then converted into steam and reused in production processes.

The partners have agreed to develop industrialised, modularised, and standardised thermal energy storage solutions for Siemens Energy’s industrial customers. 

EnergyNest chief executive Christian Thiel said that the deal was “validation of our market-ready solution for decarbonising heat, and ability to reduce emissions in hard-to-abate sectors. Our customers are thinking about what it takes to be future proof, and Covid-19 doesn’t change that.

The Norwegian firm has already deployed its thermal battery project technology at sites owned by Italian oil and gas major Eni and Austrian brick manufacturer Senftenbacher.

Under the terms of the agreement, both partners are tasked with identifying and executing joint customer projects.

Jorn Schmucker, chief executive of large rotating equipment at Siemens Energy, said: “Energy storage is the key to a decarbonised world. With Future of Storage and our cooperation with EnergyNest we are able to offer our customers exactly those solutions which help to sustainably decarbonise the industrial sector – with the strong advantage of improving the efficiency and the economics of their plants”.

The partners expect to start their first joint projects within a year.

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