The latest solar installation figures published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that the UK is slowly recovering from the shock of the fast-track December 12 deadline and the subsequent lowering of the feed-in tariff.
Since the beginning of the year, the UK solar industry has installed 20,146 systems totalling 63.24MW of capacity.
Installation numbers for the week ending February 19 show 5,223 systems were completed in that week compared to 4,640 for the week ending February 12. The rate of install falls back in line with October 2011 levels.
The new figures edge the UK’s total installed capacity over the 1GW landmark. The UK solar market has surprised even the most optimistic of predictions by reaching the milestone in only 22 months, after an extremely successful uptake of Government’s feed-in tariff scheme. Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, commented on the industry’s achievement, stating: “Solar really deserves recognition in the Government's renewable energy strategy now. With the price coming down like it is, there is no reason for it not to fill a prominent part in UK energy for 2020 and beyond. It needs re-examining in light of this milestone.”
The installation of 1GW capacity in the UK follows the Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker’s commitment to see 22GW of solar capacity installed in the UK by 2020. The minister hopes that cumulative installs over the next three years will amount to 4.3GW. Barker expects a further 3.5GW of solar to be installed before the end of the Coalition’s term.
However, following recently announced cuts to the feed-in tariff the solar industry is less optimistic about reaching the Coalition’s ambitious targets. David Hunt, a Director with Eco Environments, said: “The cuts and proposals fly in the face of Greg Barker’s declared ambition to encourage the installation of 22GW of solar before 2020, with the changes recommended there will be no one willing to buy and no one left to install it.”
The continued ambiguity over the FiT rate entitled to those solar installations registered between 12/12/11 and 03/03/2012 will also have a detrimental effect on the market. Government's decision to appeal to the Supreme Court will prolong the level of uncertainty facing the market until March 3, when newly-proposed FiT rates come into effect.