The renewable energy developer and investor communities have known for a while now that the tipping point at which subsidy free solar and energy storage will start to be deployed at scale is fast approaching. The question everyone has asking though has been "when?".

At Regen's subsidy free solar developer forum in Bristol on 15 October the answer from several of the speakers was "now". Anesco's Clayhill Farm hybrid site was opened in September 2017 but was considered an outlier. Now, though, there is real momentum behind large scale subsidy free solar. Gridserve have just finished building a 37.4MW solar farm and 27MW battery storage project near York using bifacial modules and single-axis trackers. Burges Salmon are seeing a big increase in the number of solar farms (most with batteries included) going into the development phase.

Although free standing storage has a different revenue stack to solar or hybrid sites, the news on 15 October that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a consultation on proposals to exempt energy storage from the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime in England and Wales would seem to be at least a psychological turning point in that it shows that the Government is keen to support electricity storage. The August 2019 blackout suffered in parts of England showed that electricity storage at scale has an important role to play in our power mix.

Other factors driving the market in the direction of subsidy free solar include the drive towards Net Zero, the increase in EVs and electric transport, the Extinction Rebellion agenda and the fact that solar power is now cost competitive. Abid Kazim from NextEnergy Capital pointed out at the Regen event that it's quite possible that the current projections for the deployment of subsidy free solar by 2030 are way below what will actually happen. Aurora Energy Research has also released new analysis on 16 October which suggests that a capacity increase of 100GW will be required in UK solar and wind. That's a lot of solar farms.