In line with positive predictions for the UK solar industry, the country has completed at least 350MW of solar installations in the first quarter of 2013.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), this includes a record number of large ground-mounted PV projects, which were able to take advantage of higher incentive rates before cuts came into effect on 1 April.
The UK has two separate incentive programmes, a feed-in tariff scheme for primarily small-scale PV systems and a Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme for larger systems. Incentives under the ROC were reduced at the start of this month, while FiT rates will be cut on 1 May.
As reported by PV-Tech sister site Solar Power Portal, the ROC cut from 2ROCs to 1.6ROCs on 1 April caused a steep flurry of activity within the utility-scale solar sector in the UK, so much so that analysts are predicting PV demand in Jan-Mar to exceed the 0.5GW level.
But the lower RO rate has not put off solar developers, with a substantial pipeline of projects set to be developed under 1.6ROCs.
Companies such as Germany-based solar developer ib vogt has planned a joint venture with Chinese solar manufacturer Hanwha SolarOne to complete two new large-scale solar projects in the UK.
However, the UK industry has also raised concerns that the recent mandatory registration of Chinese solar products which has caused the price of modules to rise to a level that is financially untenable for ROC-funded projects.
The smaller-scale solar PV market in the UK is continuing to recover and grow slowly following the introduction of the new FiT degression model.
The latest installation figures released in March by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that >50kW installations have broken the 2,000 a week mark – a rate 61% higher than the average weekly install figure for January.
According to BNEF, the UK added about 800MW of PV in 2012 – most of this came from rooftop PV systems.
Ranmali De Silva, analyst at BNEF said the report derived its figures from asking developers how many megawatts they commissioned before the 1 April 2013 as well as projects already tracked by the BNEF.