Ed Davey hails UK solar market’s growth

Ed Davey, the energy and climate change minister, has praised the UK solar industry’s rise to the sixth largest market for utility-scale solar in the world.

According to Wiki-Solar.org, 500MW of new projects were connected in March in the run up to the Renewable Obligation rate degression. As a result, the UK has now joined a select few markets which have more than one gigawatt of installed utility-scale capacity.

Welcoming the news, Davey said: “The UK is among the world leaders for deploying solar energy and was top in Europe for new solar projects coming online in 2013.

“The market framework created by the UK government has resulted in significant investment in solar energy generation projects since 2010. Overall, renewable electricity generation investment of up to £40 billion is expected by 2020. Our Solar Strategy launched recently, sets out our clear ambition to see further deployment of solar and help us deliver the clean energy supplies that the country needs, at the lowest possible cost to consumers, creating jobs, growth and exports.”

According to Wiki-Solar.org, the installed capacity of utility-scale power plants in the leading solar markets at the end of March was:

Country

No. of

Plants

Capacity

MWAC

United States

315

5,678

China

213

4,481

Germany

274

3,420

India

167

1,757

Spain

171

1,680

United Kingdom

188

1,328

Italy

82

876

Canada

56

714

France

46

647

Ukraine

17

477

 

Wiki-Solar.org notes that it took six years for both Germany and the USA to reach the 1GW of utility-scale solar installed milestone, whereas the UK reached it in just four years.

Commenting on the figures, Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe said: “Even these figures may be understated. The energy regulator Ofgem has a backlog of several months in the registration process – when final figures are published we may find a lot more capacity was actually installed in the first quarter. I wouldn’t be surprised if the UK has even overtaken Spain and broken into the top five.”

Indeed, industry analyst NPD Solarbuzz has reported that the UK installed 1.1GW of utility-scale solar in the first four months of 2014 alone. The newly-published Solar Strategy admitted that DECC had underestimated deployment of solar farms, warning that left “uncorrected” large-scale solar could “erode the approval rating of the sector overall”.