Europe sitting on 7 GW large-scale PV pipeline, says IHS

Of 29,000 PV projects worldwide, the IHS PV Project Database has found that Europe has 7 GW of projects planned for installation in 2014 and 2015 – with 69% set to be located in the U.K.

Research from the analysts has revealed that the U.K. solar sector is primed for a spectacular PV push over the next 18 months, with the ground-mount sector set to grow by more than 4.8 GW.

Currently, IHS found, the U.K. has more than 130 MW of utility-scale PV capacity under construction across nine projects. However, an additional 681 MW exists in a further 71 projects of 5 MW or more that have been approved planning and financing and are ready to build. Further, 250 utility scale projects are in the pipeline but face a race to be approved permits and PPAs ahead of April 1 2015 – the date that many in the industry fear the U.K. government will completely withdraw its ROC support incentive.

"After July 7 2014, we will know the outcome of the consultation process to revise the support for large-scale PV plants in the U.K. that the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) opened in May," said IHS senior analyst, Josefin Berg. "If the result of the process is a sharp end to the ROC scheme for large-scale solar projects on April 1 2015, we expect a huge rush to beat the deadline and a surge in ground-mount PV installations in the U.K. over the nest nine months.

"Considering that there are more than 4.8 GW of planned projects, as much as 3 GW could be installed through Q1 2015. The U.K. has become the epicenter of Europe’s ground-mount PV activity."

France, Germany, Italy all strong

Elsewhere on the continent, the French PV market has been particularly active for large-scale, with 974 MW of projects at various stages in the pipeline – the majority of which awarded a tariff through public tenders. Of that total, 515 MW were awarded in the first tender for projects larger than 250 kW in 2012, but less than 25% have so far been connected to the grid, while a further 142 MW of projects are under construction.

In Italy, the Conto Energia scheme in 2013 saw the big rush to pre-register most of the country’s large-scale PV projects, while Russia awarded 399 MW of PV projects in tenders in 2013, the first of which are expected to come online next year.

Germany, despite its degressed feed-in tariff (FIT), has 202 MW of ground-mount projects ready for construction before August 1 this year, while for Romania that figure is 215 MW despite the current uncertain policy landscape.

The IHS PV Project Database also reports that an estimated 7.5 GW of planned PV projects are unlikely to ever materialize in Europe due to unfavorable market conditions, with Spain the most wasteful culprit – some 1.5 GW of planned mega-projects in the country have been cancelled. Further stalls have been reported in Romania and Turkey, although the latter is pressing ahead with 600 MW of projects that have been awarded through tenders.