Since the introduction of feed-in tariffs in April last year, Sheffield has adopted more solar power generation per head than any other city in the UK. Published by the AEA Group, the ‘top 10’ authorities in the UK utilising photovoltaic technology are ranked by total output – showing Cornwall as number one, with 3.09MW capacity. Sheffield places at number five with 2.03MW capacity contributing 1.262% to the total microgeneration in the UK. However if the figures are analysed by installed capacity in relation to the population, they tell a different story.

As part of the AEA Group’s research, Britain’s highest renewable energy installation per capita goes to Sheffield, with nearly two megawatts of capacity added in the last 15 months.

Sheffield has benefitted from a strong push by the local council to encourage the take-up of renewable power, and in particular by plans to give people living in social housing access to the technology, said Colin McNaught, knowledge leader on renewable energy for the AEA Group.

Sheffield isn’t the only one driving forward in the solar race. Many cities in the UK continue to grow their solar PV technology, contributing to the industry’s strength. When compared to the total growth in microgeneration capacity of approximately 400%, solar photovoltaic (PV) streams ahead with an increase of around 900%.

According to data collated by the electricity regulator Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, in the first 15 months to 30 June 2011, approximately three quarters of the applications for the feed-in tariff have been for solar power, amounting to more than 200MW since the scheme began.

McNaught explains this spike can partly be attributed to projects with a capacity of 100kW requiring to be connected to the grid by 1st August; nonetheless it doesn’t take away from the steady increase in adoption of solar PV technology.

Solar PV has the largest installed capacity out of all microgeneration and is estimated to contribute around 47% of the GHG savings. Along with government announcements and financial incentives, McNaught predicts the boom in solar PV installations is likely to continue, which is a great benefit all round.