DECC reveals disappointing April installation figures

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published the latest solar photovoltaic installation figures for 2012, which show that from April 1-15, just 1,293 solar PV installs were registered for the feed-in tariff scheme.

Of the 1,293 installs, just 12 fell between 4-50kW. The rate of installs has plummeted a shocking 94 percent since the introduction of strict EPC requirements, multi-installation tariffs and swingeing cuts to FiT rates across the board were introduced in April.

The chart to the right shows the incredible boom and bust cycle of successive FiT policy changes that have rocked the industry. The first spike in installs demonstrates the rush of installs commissioned to beat the December 12 reference date, which saw an incredible 125.93MW of capacity installed in the seven days prior to December 12. After December 12, installs plummeted by 97 percent.

The second spike in installs occurred after the Supreme Court ruled that DECC had acted illegally in its setting of the December 12 reference date. This meant that all systems registered and installed before March 3 would receive the older, higher FiT rate. The period between February 26 and March 3 saw 35,886 systems installed.

The last and most recent spike in installs was caused by another reference date for FiT changes, this time April 1. From the start of April all properties with installed solar PV systems must hold an EPC level D in order to receive the full feed-in tariff rate. As a result of yet another restrictive measure being implemented on the industry, 13,777 installs were rushed through in the two weeks prior to April 1.

In October, Climate Change and Energy Minister Greg Barker said: “My priority is to put the solar industry on a firm footing so that it can remain a successful and prosperous part of the green economy, and so that it doesn’t fall victim to boom and bust.”

The latest figures serve as damning evidence that the Minister’s plans have in fact done the opposite and promoted boom and bust. However, as the comprehensive new range of FiT changes have only recently been introduced, the UK solar industry might have to wait until the new measures have had time to take effect before passing judgement.   

The latest round of solar installation figures make for grim reading for an industry that is becoming increasingly frustrated by a perceived lack of support from Government. One thing is clear, if we are to reach Barker’s stated 22GW by 2020 ambition installation rates must pick up.

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