SunEdison this week filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, after a two-year, $3.1bn acquisition binge that “drove its debt to unmanageable levels and sent investors running for the exits”.

The firm had built a portfolio of nearly 1000 rooftop solar installations in the UK, before it exited the economy in 2015, blaming the Government’s feed-in-tariff changes.

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said the acquisition was an “exciting and important step” for the company.

“The Government’s cuts to the feed-in tariff, and its broader attack on the renewables industry, have caused a significant problem for companies like SunEdison: we have seen some go bust and others quit the UK market as a result, losing a lot of jobs as a result,” he said.

“This is our first step into the domestic solar market, and as the price of the technology continues to fall, we’re confident that it’s only a matter of time before we can resume the work SunEdison started and help more homes take advantage of solar power.”

Green gas mill

Ecotricity has also announced this week that it is considering an appeal against Winchester City Council’s decision to reject its planning application to build a green gas mill at Sparsholt College in Hampshire.

The firm had hoped to finance and build the mill with an initial £10m investment, and also help fund the development of a renewable energy academy.

Vince said the firm was “surprised and disappointed” at the decision. “The irony here is that if this was a fracking site, which would cause significant environmental damage and public health risks – local people would not have had a say at all,” he said.

“If we’d gained approval, we would have injected £3m into the local economy every year, created new jobs, supported existing farming jobs, created new wildlife habitats, and built a new training centre for the college – all without the risks of fracking.

“As a country, we’re going to miss our 2020 target of providing 15% of our energy from renewables, and this is exactly the kind of project that could have helped us reach it – it’s a shame, but we will review the decision and see about the possibility of an appeal.”

Ecotricity was founded in 1995 as the world’s first green energy company and now supplies nearly 200,000 customers across Britain from a growing fleet of wind and sun parks. In 2014, the new entrant acquired a small windmill company Evance, saving it from administration.

Saffron Johnson

This article first appeared in edie’s sister title Utility Week

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