UK solar PV capacity soars 30% year on year but growth slows as subsidies fall


solarUK solar capacity stood at 11.1GW at the end of September 2016, up 30% on the previous year, according to latest government data.

At the end of 2016 Q3, the UK’s renewable electricity capacity totalled 33.4 GW – meaning that solar PV makes up a third of the UK’s renewable power fleet.

The rise in PV mainly came at the start of the year as both householders and larger developers looked to beat closures and reductions to subsidy schemes.

Meanwhile electricity generated from onshore wind increased by 19.4 per cent between 2015 Q3 and 2016 Q3, from 3.8 TWh to 4.6 TWh, while generation from offshore wind increased by 3.8 per cent, from 3.4 TWh to 3.5 TWh. The department for business, energy & industrial strategy said that was due to a combination of higher wind speeds and increased onshore wind capacity.

Wetter weather also drove hydro generation higher, up 10.8 per cent on a year earlier, from 1.0 TWh to 1.1 TWh.

Generation from bioenergy (from sources including biomass, landfill gas and anaerobic digestion) fell by 14.5 per cent on a year earlier, from 7.1 TWh to 6.1 TWh largely due to maintenance outages at Drax.

As well as higher capacity and output, load factors improved for both on and offshore wind. Onshore wind’s load factor increased by 1.5 percentage points, from 19.5 per cent in 2015 Q3 to 20.9 per cent. Offshore wind’s load factor increased by 1.0 percentage point, from 30.5 per cent in 2015 Q3 to 31.5 per cent in 2016 Q3.

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However, while the Q3 data provides a more detailed snapshot of UK renewable power, statistics released in January show that solar growth slowed significantly during much of 2016.

Overall, compared to the full year 2015, solar PV capacity increased by 19% to 11.46GW.

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