Saturday, August 30, 2014

UK Solar Power Adds 1 GW Capacity In H1 2014 As Developers Vow to Fight on For Subsidies

Image Credit: First Solar
Solar power capacity has seen an impressive boom in the UK during the first six months of 2014. The figures released by the Department of Climate Change show the country managed to overtake Germany in capacity addition during the first half of the year.

The provisional statistics reveal that about 1,137 MW solar power capacity was added to the grid during the first six months this year. This is the highest capacity addition during the period across Europe. This is a massive jump of 56% of the 728 MW capacity added during the first half of 2013.

The cumulative solar power capacity in the UK now stands at just under 4,000 MW and is marching briskly towards the government’s goal to increase its share in the energy mix to 15% by 2020. Solar photovoltaics (PV) remains among the most popular renewable energy technologies in the UK. According to the data released by the DECC earlier this year, solar PV had the third-highest share in installed capacity among renewable energy technologies.

The DECC plans to have 22 GW of solar power capacity installed by 2020 and has implemented several measures to support such an ambitious target. The government is considering to implement automatic approval for setting up rooftop solar PV projects of size up to 1 MW. Currently auto-approval is restricted to projects with capacity up to 50 kW only.

While the rooftop solar power project developers may rejoice, the news is not so good for the developers of large-scale projects. The Renewable Obligation subsidy scheme has become so popular that it is eating into government’s subsidy kitty at a much faster pace than expected. As a result, the government has decided to shut down the scheme two years earlier. The decision will affect power projects with over 5 MW capacity.

Major developers like Solarcentury, Lark Energy, TGC Renewables, and Orta Solar Farms are planning to appeal to the DECC to review its plans for an early rollback of the scheme. The developers are already embroiled in another tariff-related legal battle with the DECC. The government’s decision to reduce feed-in tariffs in late 2011 was challenged by the developers in court. The Supreme Court sided with the developers while the High Court ruled that the project developers were entitled to a compensation of up to £132 million.


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