NPD Solarbuzz: UK PV installations surpass 2GW milestone

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Cumulative UK PV capacity has surpassed the 2GW mark following a record year of PV installations in 2012, according to the forthcoming NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013 report.

PV demand during 2012 reached 965MW, exceeding the record levels seen during 2011. According to the market intelligence firm, this increased demand was spurred by an attractive policy environment, declining PV system prices and a low-risk investment climate.

“The UK has now been a top-10 country for PV demand during both 2011 and 2012,” commented Finlay Colville, Vice-President at NPD Solarbuzz. “With demand trending at the gigawatt-level and cumulative PV installs passing the 2GW mark, the UK can now officially be prioritised as a GW-size market by the global PV supply chain.”

The strong 2012 figures show that the UK PV market managed to lift itself out of the period of difficulty seen towards the end of 2011 following damaging cuts to the feed-in tariff (FiT) and a period of uncertainty. NPD Solarbuzz said that the UK PV industry is now able to benefit from predictable FiTs and Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) levels.

Such benefits can be reflected in the strong PV demand from both residential and ground-mount segments, with dedicated project financing and downstream supply channels now driving growth in each segment.

Colville added: “Other European countries have struggled to provide sustainable long-term growth for PV suppliers and overall European PV demand is forecast to decline from a global share of 55% in 2012 to 34% by 2015. Moreover, the UK has been able to focus exclusively on managing installation levels, without being hampered by manufacturing setbacks that have dented the PV industries in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.”

The UK PV market has made a positive start to 2013 with weekly installations under the FiT scheme approaching 5-6MW. However, NPD Solarbuzz said this figure would need to increase to the 20MW level if the UK government’s target of installing 20GW by 2020 is to be reached.

But with continued declines in PV system pricing across both residential and large-scale projects, attractive internal rate of returns at the 10% level are expected under FiTs to 2015 and ROCs to 2017.

“Support from the UK government for PV has improved considerably within the past 12 months and PV is now officially included in the UK’s long-term renewables mix,” stated Colville.

“However, there is currently scope for only 10GW of extra capacity to be fed into the UK grid. Meeting the 20GW target for PV will require additional investments to upgrade the aging UK infrastructure. However, with rises in domestic energy prices being increasingly scrutinised, public support for decentralised PV generation is likely to gain strong traction.”

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