STA brands BEIS as ‘extremely negligent’ over inaccurate solar statistics

Image: BEIS.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has hit out at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over its "incomplete" solar statistics.

The department has published its latest deployment statistics, which show that solar deployment in 2019 was down by over 60MW in comparison to 2018. This suggests the slowest year since 2010, the STA said.

However, the statistics – which show the deployment of solar in the UK each month - have not been updated since March 2019 for the 50kW to ≤ 5 MW category.

In addition, only one large-scale site has been added to the > 25 MW category in 2019, the 34.7MWp asset completed in December by Gridserve.

However, a number of solar farms above 50kW have been completed throughout 2019, including NextEnergy Solar Fund’s 50MWp subsidy-free Staughton site, which was switched on in December 2019.

“Continuing to publish incomplete datasets is extremely negligent and inconsiderate of the effect it can have on investor confidence,” Chris Hewett, chief executive of the STA, said.

“They paint a picture of a stagnating market, when in fact solar in the UK is stable and recovering after a difficult couple of years.

“The industry continues to gather momentum in the subsidy-free era, and we expect to see a glut of projects deployed over the coming years, some underpinned by Power Purchase Agreements and others that are purely merchant," Hewett added.

There was also a period in 2019 where the Smart Export Guarantee was not yet in effect, meaning installations weren't required to be registered with the MCS. As such there is the potential that new capacity was missed, simply because it wasn't registered with the MCS.

The STA has repeatedly called on the government to improve its accuracy, branding the statistics “meaningless”. In September, it issued BEIS an ultimatum to either “get its house in order” or cease publishing the figures.

In December, BEIS told Solar Power Portal it was committed to working with the solar industry to improve its solar statistics. A spokesperson for BEIS today said: “We are committed to transparency and providing accurate data, which is why we are clear that our statistics do not include all microgeneration. We continue to work with the industry with a view to changing this.”