The Armstrong Energy Global team has a proven track record of building a large scale solar business from scratch. The directors are also directors of Armstrong Energy Limited, a UK asset manager, primarily focused on the development, construction, and operation of solar assets in the UK. Further details on Armstrong Energy, including examples of projects which they have worked on, can be found at www.armstrongenergy.co.uk.
In 2010, the Armstrong Energy team worked with Downing LLP to launch the first dedicated feed-in-tariff fund in the UK. In this capacity, they spoke to hundreds of potential investors about the compelling case for investment in solar power assets in the UK. At that time the solar industry in the UK was so embryonic, that reactions from potential investors ranged from the cautiously positive to the openly negative. A number of potential investors considered the idea of solar power in the UK to be laughable.
It took Armstrong Energy almost three years to build the first 12.9 MWp. It then built the next 90 MWp in the next year. And in the next six months it expects to build the next 100 MWp. This rapid growth has been achieved in a market which has been subject to constant regulatory change.
In India we believe that this rate of rapid growth can be beaten. Building on the lessons learned in the UK, we have started slowly, building an initial 1 MWp project at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, with much of the capital required being provided by the directors. We did this to prove that we could deliver projects on the ground which generate cash, and that this cash can be repatriated to investors in the UK.
Having proven this, the Directors are now looking to scale Armstrong Energy Global rapidly. We believe that this can be achieved as projects in India can bypass the inefficient, subsidy funded, stage that was seen in the UK where projects were capped at a maximum size of 5 MWp. Armstrong Energy Global will be able to go straight to the stage of being able to build large-scale solar farms of a size of 20 – 50 MWp that has now been achieved in the UK.
Armstrong Energy Global has already secured a development pipeline of 310MWp spread over six sites.
The company is therefore looking to build an initial portfolio of 1 GWp by 2020. Certainly ambitious, yes. But certainly achievable. Not least because solar power projects in India have now reached grid parity, meaning that the company will not be reliant on subsidies to build its business.
1 GWp of solar power is relatively small compared with the power demands of India, as discussed here. But it is nonetheless material. Once achieved, Armstrong Energy Global will be providing clean electricity sufficient to meet the annual electricity needs of 10 million people in India for years to come.