A partnership forged on the TV show The Secret Millionaire is launching a “significant” new fund to provide a helping hand to rooftop solar energy projects.
Grants of up to £150,000 to fit photovoltaic panels are being offered to public and private organisations by Freetricity, a company formed by businessman Paul Williams and entrepreneur and environmentalist Ben Way, who met on the Channel Four programme.
It was reported earlier that the fund could reach £500m, but one of the listed investors, Octopus Investments, told BusinessGreen on Thursday it had not yet signed a deal, and although an agreement was likely this week, its own funding would not be more than £30m.
Williams, Freetricity’s chief executive, admitted the fund would not necessarily extend to £500m, byt said he was “reasonably confident” other sources of investment would be forthcoming to bring the total figure well above £30m.
“We’re hopeful it will reach a significant figure,” he told BusinessGreen.
Nevertheless, the panels are available on a first-come, first-served basis to building owners across England and Wales until the funding is exhausted. Organisations taking up the offer will get free electricity, while Freetricity keeps the feed-in tariff payments related to the panels.
In a company statement, Williams said the fund represented the biggest project of its kind in the UK and would help businesses and organisations to curb rising energy bills at the same time as cutting carbon emissions.
“It will be especially attractive to those who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint but concerned about the cost of doing so,” he added. “We hope that this deal will allow them to see that solar is a genuinely viable alternative to traditional energy sources.”
The scheme, also backed by developer LightSource Renewables and energy efficiency solutions company Anesco, is the latest in a series of free solar programmes.
Utility giants British Gas and E.On have both made panels available to domestic customers at no upfront cost, while SolarCentury and Homesun are among a number of specialist firms offering panels to business and domestic consumers.
In related news, US solar developer K Road Power has this week reached a deal with Barclays Capital that will see the investment bank part fund the development of solar installations.
A statement from K Road said Barclays Natural Resource Investments would “make a substantial commitment” to supporting the 11 solar projects the company has in development, including the 850MW Calico project in California it acquired in January.
• This article was amended on 4 August. BusinessGreen had originally reported that the fund could reach £500m, but later altered this figure to £30m.