UK publishes new FIT rates; records 70% increase in PV capacity

On Tuesday, the U.K. Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) published new FIT rates for PV installations up to 50 KW, which register between July 1 and September 30, 2013.

Thus, starting on July 1, FITs for systems up to 4 kW will receive up to £0.1490/KWh; systems greater than 4 KW and up to 10 KW will receive up to £0.1350/KWh; and systems greater than 10 KW and up to 50 KW will receive up to £0.1257/KWh. FITs for PV systems over 50 kW, which were reduced on May 1, will remain the same, at up to £0.1110/KWh.

Energy statistics

In related news, the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) released its 2012 energy statistics last week. It found that renewables’ accounted for a record 11.3% of the U.K.’s electricity generation in 2012, thus representing a 2% increase on 2011. Of this, 3.2% was generated from photovoltaics.

Overall, renewable electricity generated 41.1 TWh, a 20% increase on the previous year; while cumulative installed renewable capacity reached 15.5 GW.

Photovoltaic capacity also saw a large increase. In 2012, the report says, 0.7 GW of new capacity was added to the 1 GW installed at the end of 2011. This corresponds to an impressive 70% increase.

The vast majority of photovoltaic projects were installed under the U.K. FIT, however, the total also includes sites that are accredited under the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme, sites that are not accredited at all, and sites that are awaiting accreditation, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told pv magazine.

At the end of 2012, 358,000 installations were registered under the FIT, which covers England, Wales and Scotland. Of these, photovoltaics represented 99%. The majority of the photovoltaic installations are sub-4 kW retrofitted schemes, however an increase of installations in the 10 to 50 kW range was also reported.

Overall, renewable installations under the FIT scheme (except MicroCHP projects) represented 11% of all renewable installed capacity.

Meanwhile, of the total energy generated under the FIT, 21% was exported to the public distribution system under the FIT export tariff. The remaining 79% was either consumed or exported under other arrangements. Photovoltaics contributed to 79% of all electricity exported under the FIT export tariff.

PV sector growth prospects

Thanks to government incentives and falling global technology costs, photovoltaic growth in the U.K’s solar sector has already been significant and the country is now firmly established as one of the top 10 markets for photovoltaics worldwide, DECC told pv magazine.

"Solar PV is an established, flexible technology which has a great potential to contribute to the decarbonisation of our energy supply," explained Lisa Ahmad, DECC press officer. "It can be used on a range of scales, from small domestic installations through to large commercial buildings and utility-scale power generation, which creates a very large potential market for developers and installers."

She continued, "The recent reductions in the cost of solar modules has brought the technology into the sights of a wider range of potential customers than ever before – opening up further opportunities for the market."

The National Solar Centre, which opened on April 25 in Cornwall "will help to further promote the U.K. as a top destination for global investment in this exciting technology. Work carried out by the center will help cut costs, improve efficiency and drive forward further innovation," concluded Ahmad.

Edited by Becky Beetz.