Britain’s solar developers and installers reckon the nation is on track to install 1GWp of new clean PV power capacity this year.
Trade body Solar Energy UK and analysts Solar Media revealed today (Thurs 15th) that 175MWp of new PV capacity was added in the three months alone since January 1. Ground mounted solar parks make up 70% of that total, with roof installations, mainly commercial, accounting for the rest.
Drawing on government figures just released, analysts say a winter surge in commissioning utility-scale farms has brought the UK’s total installed PV capacity to over 14GWp, comfortably exceeding the power demand from 3 million homes.
On a rolling basis, 660 MW of new solar capacity has been added in the 12 months to April 2021, the body reported. Solar Energy UK was until recently known as the Solar Trade Association.
The subsidy-free share of UK capacity now exceeds 1 GWp, or 7.3% of the total installed. The Feed in Tariff, solar’s most important subsidy, closed to new installations after March 2019.
Britain’s solar boom will continue into 2021 and beyond, industry commentators are certain.
The government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme has committed nearly £140 million to upcoming PV projects, Solar Energy UK has learned from a freedom of information enquiry. That sum could see as much as 160 MW of solar PV installed on public sector buildings alone in 2021.
Last March’s lockdown prompted a rush to complete PV installations, the analysts note, repeating the rush seen in March 2019 to meet the end of the FiT subsidy.
In the two years since the FiT ended, a total of 975MWp has been installed in the UK, analysts calculate. More recently, installations have risen rapidly as the Covid-19 curbs are eased.
The government’s Green Homes Grant scheme collapsed in chaos last month, shutting out private householders. But its element open to local councils was saved. That, as well as recent changes in building regulations for new homes, means residential rooftops will continue to attract home solar in coming years.
Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett said, “The UK solar industry is going from strength to strength. Great Britain had its cleanest ever grid electricity over the Easter Weekend, with solar providing 21% of generation at one point.”
“The growing pipeline of subsidy-free projects reflects the confidence investors have in solar technology. The UK can look forward to solar delivering an increasing amount of clean, affordable power.”