Great Britain and Northern Ireland, collectively the United Kingdom, aren’t renowned for their solar resources, yet as of the end of 2012, the UK has installed more than 2 gigawatts of photovoltaics. That makes it one of the top 10 countries for photovoltaics in the world, according to forthcoming information from the NPD Solarbuzz’ Marketbuzz 2013 report.
It’s somewhat of a surprise given that just a few years ago there was very little solar installed in the country, and in 2011 the country’s PV market faced uncertainty. Then the country faced cuts its feed-in tariff and uncertainty as to the industry’s future in the country. Despite that uncertainty, the market rebounded, installing 965 MWs of new solar in 2012.
"The UK has now been a top 10 country for solar demand during both 2011 and 2012," stated Finlay Colville, vice-president at NPD Solarbuzz. The country is still far behind Germany, which leads the world with solar installations, Italy and the U.S. Germany, for instance, installed 7.6 gigawatts of solar in 2012, while the U.S. was on track to install 3.2 gigawatts of PV in 2012.
Still, recent growth and demand in Britain has been impressive. "With demand trending at the GW-level and cumulative solar installations passing the 2GW mark, the UK can now officially be prioritized as a GW-size market by the global solar supply-chain," Colville said.
The reason for the growth in the UK is due to a confluence of events, according to Solarbuzz. The events include better policies including predictable feed-in-tariffs (FITs) and Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) levels. Other things that have contributed to the growth include falling PV prices and a low-risk investment climate. "Support from the UK government for solar has improved considerably within the past 12 months and solar is now officially included in the UK's long-term renewables mix," Colville said.
The UK may still fall short of its goal of 20 gigawatts of solar unless more is done, according to Coville. "There is currently scope for only 10GW of extra capacity to be fed into the UK grid. Meeting the 20GW target for solar will require additional investments to upgrade the aging UK infrastructure,” he said.