Image: Getty.

To borrow a much-used phrase, it has been a rollercoaster of a year for solar PV in the UK. From smashing generation records to the shutdown of construction and installations during the first lockdown, the solar industry has had both a lot to celebrate and a lot to handle. Solar Power Portal has been on hand all year to not only chart the changes but to provide analysis, thoughts and details numbers of just what has been happening from both our in house journalists and Solar Media's market research team as well as expert industry voices. Here are our top blogs from 2020:


1. UK battery storage market reaches 1GW landmark as new applications continues to grow

Analyst blog – 2 Apr 2020

Author: Lauren Cook

In this blog, analyst for Solar Media's in-house market research Lauren Cook detailed how 1.3GW of battery storage were at the ready-to-build stage and could come to fruition in 2020 and 2021, with nearly 300MW of utility scale battery storage deployed in 2019. The blog shows how the average size for projects at the ready-to-build stage was 26MW, up from 20MW for projects completed in 2019. This, Cook said, reflected a large number of projects of 49.9MW that were being proposed, in addition to a wide range of smaller project sizes and batteries co-located with renewables.

The blog also details the impacts of changes such as battery storage being able to participate in the Balancing Mechanism for the first time, opening up new revenue streams for projects and bringing new companies into the market.

2. UK solar farm pipeline exceeds 10GW as 700MW of sites now being added monthly

Market research blog – 3 Sep 2020

Author: Finlay Colville

A second blog packed full of detailed figures and analysis from Solar Media's market research team, this one – penned by head of market research Finlay Colville – focuses in on the UK solar sector. Like Cook's, it provides in depth analysis of the UK's pipeline, with pre-build large-scale ground-mount pipeline capacity at 10.6GW. The article discusses the key features of this planning deluge, showing graphics that explain the trends underway, and discusses the new focus on 49.9MWp-dc sites that will be based on 500W-plus mono bifacial panels, mounted on single-axis tracking systems.

It also goes into what Colville describes as the “big change” compared to 2018 and 2019 – which saw signs of developers making subsidy-free plans – during March/April of this year, with the article detailing how COVID-19 has impacted on subsidy-free development.

3. ‘An exception, not the rule’: The significance of the UK’s biggest solar park’s approval

Editors blog – 1 Jun 2020

Author: Molly Lempriere

Cleve Hill Solar Park has had an arguably infamous journey through its development period. This year, its development was approved following a three month consultation of the recommendations given by the Planning Inspectorate, which were submitted in late February, allowing the 350MW project – the biggest in the UK – to proceed to the next stage. This article details how although the approval is very much to be celebrated, it doesn't spell an influx of solar projects of this magnitude on the horizon, and there were still barriers to Cleve Hill itself – being developed by Hive Energy – being built, with financing the next stage for the project.

4. Record new capacity added to UK large-scale solar pipeline during April

Market research blog – 6 May 2020

Author: Finlay Colville

The UK solar pipeline is once again looked over here by Colville, providing his take on the rapid uptick in the pipeline of large-scale UK solar in the month of April. It shows how 1,268 ground-mounted solar farms (>250kWp-dc) had been installed at the end of this month, adding up to 8.57GW. The blog also details how whilst there are many new companies showing up in the pipeline analysis today, these companies are just new placeholders for some of the most successful pre-development vehicles that saw the UK install over 8GW during FiT/RoC years.

5. Over 1GW of new solar farms added to UK pipeline during September

Market research blog – 30 Sep 2020

Author: Finlay Colville

Colville's streak of analyis on the UK solar sector continues here, with this article showing how despite the COVID-19 shutdown earlier in the year, developers and planners of new solar sites were continuing to operate at a frantic pace, with no signs of slowing down. It revealed how during September 2020, over 1GW of new large scale solar sites were added to the large-scale ground-mount pipeline, across 28 new locations, marking a new monthly record for capacity being added to the pipeline. It also showed how while most of the sites were at 49.9MW, one more mega-scale site was added: a 350MW location outside Chelmsford, as part of EDF Renewable’s new strategy to get involved in the build phase of UK solar sites.