A new report from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), titled “Delivering UK Energy Investment: Low Carbon Energy,” sheds some interesting light on the amount of assets allocated to solar power within the country.
According to the report, US$17.6 billion has been invested in the UK’s solar PV sector between 2010 and 2014, highlighting the progress of the market over a short stretch of time.
In February 2010, the total installed capacity of PV power in the UK leveled out at 33MW. Currently, the UK boasts a total capacity of 5GW, thanks to over 650,000 installations. Of that amount, 630,000 systems are of the small-scale variety, with just over 2,000 domestic households installing PV installations per week.
Not only does the report note the growth of solar PV in the UK, it also classifies it as a strong economic booster, stating that the market supported around 34,400 jobs in 2013.
Going forward, the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan expects 10-12GW of capacity by 2020 — but it has now expanded its previous claims, announcing that 12-14GW of solar by 2020 could be a reality.
Through the first phase of Contracts for Difference funding, the DECC announced that five large-scale PV installations have been successful, with a total combined capacity expected to be over 70MW and slated to be delivered between 2015 and 2017.
The costs of installation are also dropping, with published reports stating that prices on large-scale PV technologies are expected to drop by about 28% between 2014 and 2020.
While estimates of 12-14GW of new solar by 2020 seems to be a lofty goal, DECC Energy Secretary Ed Davey told the BBC that solar energy might even provide 4% of the UK’s energy by 2020.
The UK Solar Trade Association’s head of external affairs, Leonie Greene, urged the government to go further.
“It's different to our analysis of GW to percentage of electricity, but that's not the point. The key point is to reinstate the 20GW target. UK ambition has gone down as globally targets soar. If we had a more level playing field with equitable access to resources and a real focus on value for money then solar would naturally absorb more deployment.
“By 2020 we think 25GW is doable,” she added.