The UK installed 1.00 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2013, according to statistics released by the nation's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). This is a 41% market growth over the 711 MW installed in 2012, and brings the nation to 2.71 GW to date.
Feed-in tariffs supported the largest portion of new installations at 385 MW, followed by the Renewables Obligation (RO) at 326 MW. This is a big increase for the RO, under which only 10 MW was commissioned by the end of 2012, and reflects the government's attempt to move away from feed-in tariffs.
PV installations were much stronger in the first half of the year, with 717 MW installed from January 1st through June 30th, 2013. This includes 422 MW in the first quarter of 2013 alone. 105,000 PV plants were installed during the year, putting the average system size just below 10 kW.
Limited UK PV capacities, but growing market
Due in part to the nation's late uptake of feed-in tariffs, the UK has a much smaller installed capacity than most of its neighbors, with less than 15% of the installed PV in Germany or Italy, and less than in Belgium, France or Spain.
Since the passage of a feed-in tariff under the former Labour government, the UK has seen frequent policy shifts for PV, with cuts to feed-in tariffs, PV support split between feed-in tariffs and the RO, and now a new policy, the “Contracts for Difference”.
Despite these difficulties, preliminary statistics suggest that the UK may have been the third-largest PV market in Europe in 2013, after Germany and Italy.
UK renewable energy uptake generally poor
The contribution of PV to overall electricity demand is well below 1%, a similar level to the United States. This is part of a generally low uptake of renewable energy technologies, and renewables contributed only 13% to the electricity supply in 2013.
The current UK government under the Conservatives and Liberals has shown a preference for natural gas and nuclear power over renewables, and led an effort to remove a renewable energy target from 2030 EU climate goals.
03 February 2014 Solar Server