German solar inverter manufacturer SMA Solar has claimed that the UK PV market proved to be weaker than forecast in the first quarter of 2016.

The firm published its annual report for 2015 this morning and provided a business update for the first three months of this calendar year. While the UK was labelled as SMA’s second most important market last year behind the US, the company said the market has recorded a considerable slide in activity.

An analyst presentation this morning included the news that SMA had witnessed decline in European markets, particularly the UK due to what it labelled an “unfavourable” feed-in tariff rate.

This was compounded by chief executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon, who told journalists during a results briefing that SMA had been “surprised” by weaker demand, and that an expected rush on solar components had failed to materialise.  

Finlay Colville, head of market intelligence at Solar Media, noted that other manufacturers had downgraded their estimates for solar deployment in the UK.

“The market in the UK during Q1 2016 is very different to twelve months ago, and this is being reflected in a number of comments from companies that had previously enjoyed success in the large boom quarters in the past.

“On a similar theme, SolarWorld recently mentioned in its annual report for 2015 that it expected deployment over the whole of 2016 in the UK to be down well over 50% compared to its cited figure of 3.1GW for 2015, suggesting SolarWorld is expecting that the UK in 2016 will be about a 1GW market.

“This would indicate SolarWorld is expecting Q1 2016 to be somewhere in the range of 500-700MW using previous seasonal trends in the UK. REC Solar has also noted in its most recent quarterly announcements that it sees the deployment in Q1 2016 and Q2 2016 to be much more evenly balanced, again hinting of a market size for Q1 2016 in the UK of the same magnitude as the SolarWorld data,” he said.

The UK government’s new feed-in tariff regime came into place on 15 January 2016, prior to which there was a significant increase in domestic installations. DECC statistics claimed last month that as much as 83MW of domestic rooftop solar was added in the first two weeks of January before the FiT closed to new applicants.

Industry figures had stated that the near doubling of domestic solar deployment had been slightly below some estimates, however large-scale deployment is still expected to be strong in the UK throughout Q1 with most EPCs rushing to connect utility-scale projects prior to tomorrow’s 1.3 ROC deadline. This week has already see announcements from the likes of Solarcentury, BayWa r.e. and ReneSola regarding their respective pre-ROC deadline deployment.