As we move steadily through the month of May, it is exciting to see that the solar photovoltaics industry is till ploughing forward, despite the various setbacks thrown in its path since conception back in 2010. In fact, regulator Ofgem recorded over 10MW of new installations in the month of April 2011 alone, up from just 0.982MW for the same period the year before.
From April 1 – 30 the UK solar industry totted up 10.562MW, made up of 3,603 installations. A whopping 10.146MW (3,548) of these were residential, continuing the trend we have seen in previous months. These figures show that April was the second most successful month the UK solar industry has seen so far (after March 2011). This spike in installations could have been caused by the increase in the feed-in tariff (due to inflation) or because there is a panic to get grid-connected before the tariffs are potentially cut on August 1.
For 2010, the original feed-in tariff rates resulted in the following figures (number of installations in brackets): 0.982MW (408) from April – May; 2.465MW (1009) from May – June; 3.574MW (1426) from June – July; 4.566MW (1753) from July – August; 8.971MW (3735) from August – September; 6.438MW (2486) from September – October; 6.759MW (2440) from October – November and 6.560MW (2377) from November – December, 2010.
As we moved into 2011 the figures were seen to increase significantly: 9.160MW (3229) from January – February; 9.977MW (3437) from February – March and 13.810MW (4650) from March – April. Again, the amplification as we moved through the year can be attributed to the aforementioned factors.
Regionally, the installations in April followed the same pattern we have seen previously. Most of the projects were completed in the south, while only a small percentage was recorded in the north. The evidence of this can be seen in the chart below.
To date, the UK solar industry has accumulated 93.268MW of installations in just over 12 months. (We must mention again that this figure includes historic installations entitled to the reduced-rate 9p tariff only, which were transferred from the former Renewables Obligation, as well as full FiT-eligible installations connected between July 15, 2009 and the start of the scheme, but which appear on the Register as post-April 1. These installations amount to approximately 11MW; however, it is difficult to be precise in this regard as Ofgem does not outline the separate categories.) As we predicted back in the beginning of April, more than 87MW of this total came from the residential sector. It is unclear whether this figure has been reached as a result of natural growth in a new industry, or because of the scaremongering caused by the UK Government playing around with the subsidy policy. Either way, this is a fantastic achievement, and should be applauded by industry players and policy makers alike.