The UK will install 13GW of new solar capacity over the next five years, according to industry analysts IHS.

The company has raised its forecast for the UK following unprecedented growth in the ground-mount sector. IHS now predicts that the UK will have 16GW of installed capacity by 2018 – averaging around 2.5-3GW annually until 2018. An installation rate that would keep industry on track to achieve Greg Barker’s 20GW by 2020 ambition and well above the Solar Strategy’s prediction of 10-12GW by 2020.

According to Josefin Berg, senior analyst at IHS, the newly-published Solar Strategy in concert with a strong ground-mount pipeline will drive the growth in the UK market. IHS now estimates that 922MW worth of solar farms were completed in the first quarter of 2014, with 1.5GW expected to be connected by the end of the year. However, Berg believes that the strategy’s shift towards roof-mounted solar will see the ground-mount segment begin to decline steadily as the incentive scheme moves towards commercial rooftops.

IHS notes that the UK market is less fragmented than other European solar markets, with the five largest EPC companies (Conergy, British Solar Renewables, Martifer Solar, Grupotec and Isolux Corsan) responsible for 46% of all utility-scale projects installed in Q1 2014. Lightsource Renewable Energy remains the UK’s largest investor in solar farms with IHS claiming that the developer installed 190MW of utility-scale projects (>5MW) in 2014.

However, Berg warns that companies operating in the ground-mount sector will need to begin diversifying away from solar farm projects and into the rooftop market after 2015. IHS points to Lightsource’s recent move to open a commercial rooftop division early this year as proof of the expected shift in solar demand in the wake of the Solar Strategy.