UK solar investment fell in 2015 despite global upward trend, claims BNEF report

  • Solar.

    Investment in UK solar topped £3.4 billion in 2015 according to BNEF.

Investment in UK solar capacity fell by 30% year-on-year in 2015 despite the global upward trend, a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has found.

BNEF’s clean energy investment report, published this morning, has found that total investment in UK solar totalled roughly US$4.9 billion (£3.4 billion) in 2015, sharply down on 2014’s figure of US$7 billion (£4.8 billion). The total does however return to the levels of investment seen in the years before 2014’s landmark year.

The gap between investment in wind and solar in the UK has also widened. In 2014 total investment in the two technologies was broadly similar at US$7.7 and US$7 billion respectively, however investment in wind has almost doubled in the last year to US$15.3 billion (£10.65 billion) while solar has slipped.

BNEF did however note that the total figure for investment in the UK’s clean energy sector – standing at US$23.4 billion (£16.3 billion) – made 2015 a record year, with the continued growth of its rooftop solar market being a particular bright spot.

Around US$1.8 billion (£1.25 billion) of the UK’s solar investment was for sub-1MW solar PV projects. This placed the UK as the fourth-largest global market for small-scale solar, behind only Japan, the US and China.

Jenny Chase, head of solar at BNEF, told Solar Power Portal that the declining investment in the UK market was attributable to lower capital expenditure for solar in the UK and a comparatively smaller build-out for ground-mount solar in Q1 2016, with most of the finance having been arranged throughout Q3 and Q4 2015.

The government has continually denied that its reset of renewables subsidies has impacted investor confidence in the sector despite claims to the contrary from associated companies and investors themselves.

An inquiry into investment confidence was launched by the energy and climate change select committee late last year and continues to gather evidence ahead of a report on the matter, due to be published in the coming months.

The future of the UK ground-mount market and solar financing sector will be discussed at next month's Solar Finance and Investment event in London, details of which can be found here.

This article has been amended from its original version to include additional comment from BNEF.

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