Exclusive: UK solar industry hits 10GW cumulative PV capacity

Total solar capacity installed in the UK has broken through the 10GW barrier, Solar Power Portal can reveal.

The development comes just a week after European industry body SolarPower Europe claimed that the UK would continue to be the largest solar market in Europe in 2016 having also topped the tables in the previous year, and also follows a bumper 12 months for deployment in 2015.

Finlay Colville, head of intelligence at Solar Media, writes:

This comes after solar PV installed during the first six weeks of Q1 2016 hit 340MW, adding to the cumulative solar PV in the UK at the end of 2015 of 9.66GW.

The quarterly solar PV additions can be seen in the figure below, split into the range of different incentive rates on offer to the industry over the past five years.

Additions from 1.4 ROCs have dominated the UK’s solar capacity, with the peak in Q1’15 reaching 2.53GW. Source: Solar Media Ltd

The push towards the 10GW mark came mostly in 2015, when 3.9GW was added in twelve months, with 65% of this in Q1 alone.

The growth trajectory by quarter, leading up to the 10GW landmark, is shown below.

Strong deployment of solar in the UK started in the middle of 2011, when attractive FiT rates created the first boom/bust phase for both ground-mount and domestic installs.

In recent months, the drive has come from a range of factors:

  • Drastic cuts to FiTs, leading to a spike in small rooftop installations to 15 January 2016

  • Pre-accreditation of stand-alone ROO-FiTs, driven by RO uncertainty from 22 July 2015, coupled with the ability to share grid connections with community based projects

  • Build-out under 1.3 ROCs for 4.99MW ground-mount farms

  • Closure on >5MW sites, grandfathered under May 2014 policy changes

The UK is going to be dominated by ground-mounted solar until 31 March 2016, with 1.3 ROCs expiring at this point.

After 31 March 2016, there are many questions to be answered. Anyone looking to find out about the UK solar sites available from 1 April 2016 can subscribe to our market research databases, by contacting John Browne at Solar Media.