The UK solar sector is prioritising large-scale projects ahead of the March cut-off for projects over 5MW to qualify for renewable obligation (RO), according to module manufacturers REC and JA Solar.
Speaking at the Solar Energy UK exhibition in Birmingham, REC’s senior VP of sales and marketing Luc Grare said many developers were not spending too much time on bids for the replacement scheme – contracts for difference (CfD) – and were instead focusing their efforts on completing existing projects before the RO is scaled-back at the end of March.
“The first [CfD] initiatives may be happening in Q4 2015 but it will be mainly business for 2016, that's at least what people in large-scale in the UK have been saying to me,” said Grare.
“However, the developers today, they were not really busy in that field. They are saying let's finish what we are doing now before the end of March and then deal with that when we come to it.
“From the conversations we've had, there are great opportunities in the commercial rooftop market but if you ask how to develop this further, still a lot of thinking work has to be done. But again, we felt that people are still more focussed on what they are doing before the end of March and not really able to concentrate on anything other than that,” added Grare.
With the UK industry maturing and lessons learned from previous rushes to meet the degression cut-off dates for the RO, many developers are working to complete projects as soon as possible. That means a securing module supplies to ensure no unnecessary delays are incurred.
“In terms of our customers concerned about supply, we have seen two things. They are trying to realise projects as early as possible and trying to finish and get grid connected well before the deadline,” said Henning Schulze, vice president of Europe, JA Solar.
“Also, and this is where I think JA does well because we have a good history of deliveries as promised, our customers know they don’t have to worry about supply,” he added.
Schulze also stressed that while developers can do everything in their power to ensure deadlines are met, they are subject to external forces.
“Everybody is aware of the risks and everyone wants to minimise this risk, the point is that the time, how long it takes for a project to be accepted is out of control of the developer. They can do everything better but a very big portion of the project development occurs where they are not actually the main decision maker,” he explained.
In June, the high court overturned minister for communities and local government Eric Pickles decision to block a project by Lark Energy, calling his decision “perverse”.
“We were always concerned about the legality of the secretary of state’s decision as it appeared to have been made without due regard to the local plan,” said Jo Wall, development director, Lark Energy at the time of the court’s decision.
Additional reporting by Andy Colthorpe