UK PV market expected to grow five-fold

The UK’s solar PV market could grow five-fold in 2010 as a result of the country’s new feed-in-tariffs, said the PWC. The report also estimated that by 2015, the country’s solar PV energy capacity could have grown over 30 times to reach 1,000 megawatts (MW). However, it continued, even with this growth, the UK’s capacity in 2020 would only reach the levels already achieved by Germany today.

The analysis found that the widespread roll out of solar PV has been slowed by a number of factors including a lack of incentives for small-scale domestic installations, complexity of funding, and planning restrictions. The majority of existing UK installations are small domestic panel, similar to France and Germany.??

Moreover, it said that feed-in-tariffs in continental Europe have driven rapid increases in solar PV installations, with annual increases in excess of 300 percent in many countries during the first year of the tariffs’ availability. The coalition government recently announced plans to implement a full program of feed-in tariff systems for electricity in the UK.

Daniel Guttmann, renewables director for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP commented: "The significant expansion that may be just around the corner will change today’s ‘cottage industry’ into a much more professionally organized sector. The PV market will become more sophisticated with more complex products and a greater focus on accountability for system performance.??"

He continued: "The industry will need to adapt and develop quickly to ensure that as much of the opportunity in terms of job and value creation is captured within the UK. Companies that have been successful so far have benefited from investment in order to fund expansion. Further investment will be required in order to train for and fund the rapid expansion expected. New entrants are likely to expand into the UK in coming years. We believe that this will be true across much of the value chain, but particularly downstream around installations."

The PwC study, ‘On the brink of a bright future? Insights on the UK solar photovoltaic market’ also found:

  • Solar PV represents only 0.3 percent of renewable energy in the UK installed today
  • Current solar capacity in the UK is 32MW – this makes the UK 11th out of 27 European countries and means the UK is a decade behind the largest European countries
  • The majority of UK installations are small domestic panels – (no larger than 3Kw)
  • In France and Germany, like the UK, domestic installations dominate PV capacity, while in Spain and Italy, large-scale solar farms are more common
  • UK industry observers interviewed for the analysis anticipate a potential five fold rise in solar PV installation in the UK in 2010 as a result of FiT
  • Respondents to the market survey expressed concern that there are too few certified installers to meet potential demand
  • The industry will professionalise, consolidate and new entrants (including overseas companies) will drive the sector forward

In order for the UK to fully benefit from solar potential, investment in infrastructure, skills and training will be required, concluded the report.

??Gus Schellekens, sustainability & climate change director, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP added:??"The focus on PV is timely with recently published roadmap documents outlining the future global potential for PV technologies. While its use in the UK is small today, PV has a promising future if supported by strong government policy that sustains early deployments and supports the technology’s transition to cost competitiveness."