The UK’s commercial solar sector could drive the UK to 3GW in 2014, according to PV manufacturer Trina Solar. 

Speaking at Large Scale Solar UK, Richard Rushin, UK sales director for Trina Solar explained that the key to the UK having a strong year would be the industry’s ability to unlock the potential in the commercial sector.

Rushin said: “The UK solar market is going from strength-to-strength in all sectors. 2013 was a really exciting year for UK solar, with around 1.45GW deployed. Conservative estimates for 2014 suggest that we will hit 2.5GW by the end of the year, but if the commercial space picks up, which we believe it will, we could be in line to reach 3GW.

“To put this into context, this would make the UK market bigger than Germany and the largest in Europe, driving the UK one or two places up the global rankings. Looking forward to 2020, we can see continued momentum, and believe that the UK industry can reach the 20GW target set by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC).

Rushin went on to discuss the particular challenges facing the commercial market. He said: “Meeting this figure, however, depends upon the industry’s ability to overcome a number of barriers. We need to ensure the right balance on the grid, between residential, large scale and commercial deployments, and while we continue to have very healthy large scale and residential deployments, the commercial sector has yet to fully take off. This is something that must be rectified.

“We need attractive financial incentives at a governmental level, but the industry itself also needs to better understand what the drivers are in the commercial space, and understand the relationship between leaseholders and the actual owners of the property. For example, what are the legal and practical barriers to commercial arrays, who gets the energy, who uses it, and who should make the cost-savings?”

However, Rushin was keen to point out that there remains significant uncertainty around the exact details of the government’s proposals to bolster the ailing commercial sector.

Rushin explained: “Encouragingly, there is work underway by the government to bring clarity and certainty to the commercial space, who have pledged to planning authorities, property owners and the solar industry to ‘cut red tape and sweep away barriers to making use of empty industrial spaces’ to ease the path to solar deployments in the commercial space. In light of this, I believe that 2014 will be the year for commercial installations, and once we have some high profile examples of large-scale commercial installations, I’d predict something of a snowball effect, with many more following suit.”