17 May 2018


Utility-scale Data analytics North America United States of America

Top 70 European Solar Portfolios (2018 update)

Author: Mina Mesbahi, Solarplaza

Europe has been upping its solar ante over the course of last year. According to SolarPower Europe, European PV installments grew by 28%, from 6.72 GW in 2016 to 8.61 GW in 2017. The region is poised to install an average of 14 GW every year till 2022. Furthermore, the European solar market is at the cusp of a new cycle, no longer bolstered by feed-in tariffs.

To better navigate the dynamic landscape of European PV ownership and in the run-up to Solar Asset Management Europe 2018, we have compiled a list of top 70 European solar portfolios. This article provides additional insights into the top 70 portfolio holders and market composition.

Consolidation Chronicles Continue

The year 2017 was laden with a spate of acquisitions. UK, Italy and Spain were amongst the countries with the highest number of  acquisition activities. This does not come as a surprise given the mature nature of the European PV market nudging the market to further consolidations in ownership resulting in a secondary market, where a handful of giants own the majority of assets.

Top 10 European Solar Portfolios

# Name Size '18* Size '17* Role Headquarters Source
1 Octopus Investments 1,080.00 1,085.00 F.O. F.O. F.O.
2 Enerparc AG 1,050.00 984.02 F.O. F.O. F.O.
3 Encavis 830.17 640.20 F.O. F.O. F.O.
4 Foresight Group 674.00 900.00 F.O. F.O. F.O.
5 NextEnergy Solar Fund 569.00 501.00 F.O. F.O. F.O.
6 Aquila Capital 505.00 625.00 F.O. F.O. F.O.
7 Bluefield Solar Income Fund Ltd 498.70 401.40 F.O. F.O. F.O.
8 Abengoa Solar 492.00 492.00 F.O. F.O. F.O.
9 Sonnedix 489.00 339.20 F.O. F.O. F.O.
10 Greencoat Capital 470.00 108.00 F.O. F.O. F.O.
* Sizes in MWp
F.O. = Accessible in the Full Overview


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The Five Giants

The British Octopus Investments and Germany-headquartered Enerparc AG remain at the top of the list for the second consecutive year, each exceeding an outstanding capacity of 1 GW. Although Enerparc is currently outranked by Octopus by merely 30 MW, the company is poised to have 250 MW of PV capacity operational by October 2018. Octopus is also set for an uptick of capacity in the coming year, nonetheless the company’s current pipeline is only about 110 MW. We will update this list as this toe-to-toe battle between these two giants continues.

Capital Stage, which was in the fourth position on last year’s top 70, underwent a brand makeover. They acquired Chorus Clean Energy and the third largest portfolio owner, Encavis, was born. Foresight Group occupies the 4th place of the list. The UK-based company announced the acquisition of five PV projects with a total capacity of 53.3 MW at the end of last month. The 5th largest European portfolio belongs to NextEnergy Solar Fund. In February 2018, the British solar investor acquired a collection of plants across the UK with a combined capacity of 26 megawatts.

Market Composition

Investors managing their assets hold the largest share followed by solar developers that also own assets. Utilities represent the lowest number of companies in the Top 70 portfolios. In fact, solely one of the companies in the top 10 portfolios is a utility. Furthermore, isolating the top 10 asset owners by their country of origin, illustrates the dominance of German and British companies both in terms of megawatt-capacity as well as the number of portfolios. Spain and France each have a contender in the top 10, namely Abengoa Solar and  EDF Energies Nouvelles.

Although it would not be entirely implausible to assume a direct correlation between the location of asset owners and their portfolios, some portfolios do indeed transcend national borders. However, the companies do not always disclose their asset data based on the country. Therefore, the graph presented below showcases portfolio capacities with relation to the location of the portfolio owners. The UK, Germany and Italy are the home to portfolio owners with the highest capacity on the list.  As showcased in the top 10 graph, German companies represent the highest capacity in the top 10 portfolios. Nevertheless they are overtaken by the British companies in the overall top 70.

Tale of Top 10: Where They Were, Where They Are Now

Analysing the top 10 portfolio owners on the list, a few notable changes in their portfolio sizes, over the last year, are observed. Greencoat Capital joined the solar space at the cusp of 2017, acquiring six farms from Primrose Solar and three projects from BayWa r.e. with a total combined capacity of 108 MW. Since then, the company has expanded its newly established portfolio even further by 362 MW to 60+ sites all across the UK. Only 3 companies experienced a downsizing. Furthermore, the data suggests that both IPPs in the top 10 have been growing their assets. Overall, the top 10 solar portfolios have not undergone any major change in terms of  capacity with the exception of Greencoat Capital.

Although some of the giants have not changed in ranking, the data does reflect the overall growth and consolidation of the European solar market, particularly when it comes to smaller players. Solar has been meeting all the expectation in terms of growth in Europe and is expected to continue to do so as more and more EU member states are opting for rays of sunshine to hit their 2020 renewables targets. This sparks the question of what to do to reap the most benefits out of the budding European PV market.

To learn more about managing, operating and maintaining European solar assets, join the 6th edition of Solar Asset Management Europe; a pre-eminent conference dedicated to optimisation of the operational phase of solar assets, taking place in the vibrant city of Milan on 23 & 24 October.

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