As the UK industry prepares to descend upon the NEC in Birmingham next week for the industry’s flagship event – Solar Energy UK – recent data has just come out that hints towards the GW level of ground-mount opportunities we have been flagging up that could be available before 1 April 2016.

The new data – available for monthly deployment leading up to end August 2015 – is important because it shows, for the first time, very large uptake of FiT accredited (almost all with pre-accreditation) ‘standalone’ solar PV.

While in part due to the FiT changes being proposed by DECC, that would take effect from 31 December 2015, the standalone growth in the past few months is actually a consequence of the RO changes outlined as far back as May 2014, and the uptick in community based FiT projects in 2015 also. Let’s explain this first.

The May 2014 changes put the 5MW limit on post-application status RO build-out of solar farms from 1 April 2015 (1.3 ROCs). An approach identified by the developers to create sites that were in fact 10MW, and not 5MW, was the so-called 5+5MW approach. 5MW gets 1.3RO threshold accreditation, with the other 5MW on FiTs. So, any of the 5+5MW sites built since 1 April 2015 would have two lots of 5MW showing up on different registers (just to confuse DECC statisticians a bit more).

Add in the mini surge in ground-mounted community-based FiT projects since April 2015, and we have the basis for our mini standalone FiT surge. Here is the data to back this up.

As well as boosting 2015 solar PV deployment figures even higher, the uptick in standalone FiT accreditations is also a strong indicator that remaining 1.3RO deployment will be at the high end of market forecasting done by the Solar Media team in the past few weeks.

While there are still several unknowns preventing us from coming out with detailed forecasts – not least waiting for DECC’s RO plan rubber-stamping – anyone associated with large-scale solar farms needs to be on full alert for the 5+ months left until 1 April 2016.

 A multi GW pipeline of solar farms is up for grabs between different EPCs, component suppliers and portfolio managers, and come 1 April 2016, there will be no prizes for being second choice on any solar farm site.

As part of our research on these topics, Solar Media is putting on a dedicated event at SEUK next week. Finlay Colville will explore the ongoing opportunities in ground mount solar in the UK as the country nudges past 10GW in April 2016. He will also run three workshops on how Solar Media’s Market Intelligence offering can help your business on Tuesday 13 at 1100-1200 and 1500-1600 and again on Thursday at 1100-1200. These will be hosted on Solar Media’s main booth, J50.