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Podcast: NextEnergy Solar Fund’s Ross Grier talks solar power and battery storage

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This week we are very excited to have Ross Grier, UK Managing Director of NextEnergy Capital, in our virtual studio. NextEnergy Capital is a specialist investor in solar energy opportunities as well as ancillary technologies, in multiple markets across the world. Grier himself looks after the UK projects the fund has in its portfolio.

On this podcast we talk about NextEnergy Solar Fund [LON:NESF], which is the firm’s listed investment vehicle and arguably the most accessible for investors. We discuss the dynamics of the solar energy sector, and how that stacks up against other green energy areas like wind power for example. NextEnergy Capital looks after a wide range of assets in Europe and can see a lot of new opportunities in the market as they occur.

A FTSE 250 investment trust

Solar PV is an important part of the global energy mix and is going to play a key role in the achievement of net zero. NextEnergy Solar Fund was listed in 2014 and is currently a FTSE 250 component. It is a long-term holder of solar assets, with a 25-50 year view. It is a really long-term play and has over 100 assets under management in the portfolio.

While the investment trust is mainly focused on solar PV, it is also investing in battery storage. It continues to outperform its year-on-year performance including in power production and dividend yield. Grier reckons the trust is well positioned to perform well in a high inflationary environment.

Grier explains in depth how the fund acquires and then manages the assets it contains and how the team is able to generate this long-term and reliable performance, including how it generates income and the dividends that make this a highly prized investment trust. This discussion includes the role of government subsidies as part of NextEnergy Solar Fund’s revenue-generating model, as well as how they trade their power in current volatile energy markets.

Battery storage and Italian solar power

Will the fund continue to buy assets or generate its returns from its existing portfolio? And why has the fund branched off into European acquisitions – e.g. in the Italian market? Does this require a different approach and does it bring any geographical diversification benefits?

Battery storage is an interesting angle for the fund and investing heavily in this area brings a further string to the trust’s bow. Grier talks to us about how this aspect of the strategy slots in with the solar farms.

Grier explains how the NextEnergy Solar Fund can be managed to iron out volatility in the power sector, as well as protect itself from inflation. We also got a chance to talk politics and the role of the UK government in particular in helping to nourish and develop the solar energy in the UK.

Finally we also get a chance to look at current high energy prices and how that feeds into the prospects for solar PV and battery storage. “What’s not going to happen is that solar PV is going away,” says Grier. “What’s important to us is that we maintain that stable regulatory environment.”

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Make sure you do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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