Vattenfall has announced plans to invest up to €100 million in developing solar plants over the next two years.
That investment will predominantly be made into utility-scale plants where existing infrastructure can be used to reduce costs, however the Swedish state-owned utility also wants to provide small-scale solar generator for private and business customers.
Vattenfall has outlined the potential for decentralised solar systems which are to be offered to its energy supply customers as part of a much wider energy services play.
The company already offers small-scale solar installations in its native Sweden under a service called InHouse, which targets companies and tenant-owner housing associations, as well as a solar leasing model for businesses in Germany and the Netherlands.
Last summer Vattenfall threw down a statement of intent with its purchase of domestic energy supplier iSupplyEnergy and immediately set its sights on eating into the Big Six’s share of the market.
While it is not yet clear if Vattenfall will offer domestic solar systems in the UK, such a move would echo similar launches made by the likes of E.On and EDF.
On the utility-scale side, of particular interest to Vattenfall is the potential co-location of new solar projects alongside existing wind farms. In 2016 the firm completed a 5MW ground-mount solar farm at the site of its Parc Cynog wind project in Wales with the two generators sharing a single grid connection.
Late last year Vattenfall deemed the pilot scheme an overwhelming success, triggering the company to investigate further applications of such hybrid schemes.
Magnus Hall, president and CEO at Vattenfall, described solar as an “important supplement” to wind generators.
“We are now increasing the investment budget for solar power to satisfy our customers’ increased interest and demand. From electricity consumers, who can obtain electricity from our future solar farms, but also from potential customers, who want to both consume and generate electricity from solar power,” he said.
The company noted that it had recently approved investment decisions for three similarly co-located projects in the Netherlands with a total capacity of around 10.5MW. It has also gained approval for a 40MW project to be co-located with Haringvliet wind farm and construction plans are currently being prepared.
Several other co-located projects are described as being in other stages of planning, and Vattenfall also said it is keeping a watchful eye on regulatory developments in other countries, particularly the next rounds of auctions in Germany.