UK’s 5GW of PV makes it ‘Europe’s most important solar PV market’

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

The UK has reached 5GW of installed PV capacity, making it “the most important solar PV market in Europe”, at least during this year, according to the latest findings from analysis firm NPD Solarbuzz.

The UK is only the sixth country globally to have reached 5GW. Germany still leads the pack by some distance with 37GW, while China, Japan, the US and Italy all have over 10GW installed. The nation can now meet around 5.6% of its electricity demand from solar, Solarbuzz says, with 90% of the total amount installed in the past three years alone.

Writing in an exclusive blog post for PV Tech's sister site, Solar Power Portal, Solarbuzz's vice president Finlay Colville said that the high figure makes the UK’s PV market the most important in Europe this year and at the start of next year. This, he says, could help attract inward investment and support.

Colville was clear in highlighting the UK’s support schemes as instrumental in driving the growth of PV deployment, nearly all of which has taken place since 2010. The feed-in tariff (FiT) rates inherited by the UK’s current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government from the outgoing Labour administration were, he says, “among the most lucrative offered to any PV industry”.

Another important driver has been the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) mechanism, which has been behind the recent boom in large-scale PV in the UK. The ROCs scheme is currently under review with an expectation that it will end in April 2015.

“Aside from the answers that economists or environmental activists may wish to offer, the quick and easy answer to the ‘why’ question is incentives. Or more broadly speaking: incentivised vehicles subsidised from the Treasury within which solar technology was allowed to participate,” says Colville.

“It is that simple. Without support from the Treasury, there would have been no solar PV industry in the UK”.

According to Colville and Solarbuzz, while the deployment of large-scale solar has been celebrated in industry circles, PV installations driven by small-scale FiTs “have been the backbone” of UK solar. Around 42% of all UK PV has been incentivised by small-scale FiTs.

Colville also said that where investment from Europe into the UK has tailed off recently, money from Asian and US investors has “flooded in” in quantities great enough to “more than offset” the shortfall. Meanwhile, the strong performance of UK PV in yielding returns for institutional investors has made it compare favourably with more traditional savings and investment vehicles offered by mainstream lending institutions such as banks, says Colville.

Colville also argues however, that the accolade could be a “double-edged sword”. He explains that in his view, it could be a weakness when arguing in favour of keeping top level support for solar.

“Tactically, for example, it does not help in making the case for increased grace period leniency after 31 March 2015, or keeping the sub-5MW ROC option on the table to 31 March 2017. Any grandfathered PV commitment has a long-term Treasury impact on the Levy Control Framework budget.”

Finlay Colville of NPD Solarbuzz's blog on the UK's 5GW milestone can be read in full at Solar Power Portal.

18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.
20 October 2021
Utility-scale solar is evolving, shaped by higher power modules and demand for increasingly lower levelised cost of electricity (LCOE). Those trends are also changing project requirements elsewhere, with inverters capable of delivering high power density and power capacity in strong demand. In this webinar, FIMER will detail how its innovative high-power, multi-MPPT string inverter and modular conversion solution can both meet those demands and transform the utility-scale solar sector for the better.
20 October 2021
The race is on but we need to sprint… With global climate talks fast approaching and time running out to prevent the most disastrous impacts of climate change, now is the time to act. The Summit will explore the opportunities that emerge from taking action on climate change and provide a clear pathway forward for governments, citizens and companies. Taking place just 10 days before the G20 meeting in Rome, on 30-31 of October, and in the lead up to the critical COP26 meeting in Glasgow from 31 October–12 November, this event will be instrumental in influencing ambitious global action.
10 November 2021
The solar tracker market continues to mature at breakneck speed, with designs and component selections becoming ever-more complex in the pursuit of better project economics. But a more simplistic design could deliver a triple benefit of lower Capex, EPC and Opex costs. This webinar will set out the ideal single axis tracker design for utility-scale solar farms. The design leapfrogs from decades of experience, with a comprehensive understanding and attention to the three cost structures of Capex, EPC and Opx. Sun and Steel Solar has prototyped a single axis tracker designed to deliver up to US$0.03/W in real savings compared to existing single axis trackers on the market. That’s US$30 million for every gigawatt deployed.
15 November 2021
The 10th edition of the famous Metallization and Interconnection Workshop, MIW2021, will take place in the Thor Central venue in Genk, Belgium, on Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021 as a face-to-face meeting. We are longing for direct exchange of knowledge and ideas after a long time. Hopefully you can be part of it! But of course, the organizors will keep an eye on the evolution of the Covid pandemic. It will be assess carefully, whether the workshop can be held without major risks or excessive restrictions. We are looking forward to exciting talks, discussions and meetings and to welcoming you in Genk!

Read Next

October 15, 2021
US residential solar financier GoodLeap has raised US$800 million to expand into the broader market for sustainable home improvement, other carbon-reducing products and later commercial offerings and electric vehicles (EVs).
October 15, 2021
Doral Renewables has broken ground on the 1.65GWdc Mammoth Solar project in Indiana, set to be the US’ largest solar farm once complete.
October 15, 2021
European renewables investment management firm Greencoat Capital has confirmed its entry to the US renewables market and is plotting to invest up to US$5 billion over the next five years.
October 15, 2021
The European Commission (EC) has urged member states to accelerate solar deployment in order to tackle Europe’s rising electricity prices and has released a ‘toolbox’ to address the short-term impact of prices and strengthen resilience against future shocks
October 14, 2021
Europe’s most competitive renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) offers rose 8% quarter-on-quarter as Europe’s worsening energy crisis bites, according to US firm LevelTen Energy’s Q3 2021 PPA Price Index report.
October 14, 2021
JinkoSolar has laid claim to a new n-type monocrystalline silicon solar cell conversion efficiency record, taking that efficiency rating to 25.4%.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
November 10, 2021
8am (PST) | 5pm (CET)
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021