The United Kingdom added 1.47 GW of new solar photovoltaic capacity during the first six months of 2014, exceeding the amount of newly installed capacity deployed in all of 2013 itself a record year for the U.K. PV industry, according to a report by market research group NPD Solarbuzz.
"The U.K. is now firmly established as the leading solar PV market in Europe, and the country is expected to become the fourth largest global market for new solar PV deployment in 2014," NPD Solarbuzz states.
Activity in the first quarter dominated the period, accounting for some 80% of the new capacity installed in the first half of the year. The drop in Renewable Obligation (RO) incentives for ground-mounted PV from 1.6 to 1.4 in April was behind the quarterly split, the research group says.
The report adds that the residential segment continues to trend at 80 MW to 100 MW per quarter, with the industry having adapted successfully to the degression mechanism implemented earlier by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
At the same time, NPS Solarbuzz points out that the commercial rooftop market remains heavily underutilized despite the DECCs aim to shift PV installations from ground to rooftops. Large rooftop systems of more than 100 kW accounted for just 4% of capacity in the first half of 2014.
Ground-mounted installations dominated in the period, making up more than 75% of new PV capacity deployed. Solar farms remain the most attractive option for investors seeking to accumulate large portfolios of PV assets, according to the report.
"The U.K. PV industry is currently adapting to recent proposals from DECC to cut RO funding two years earlier than expected for ground-mounted projects above 5 MW in size," NPS Solarbuzz says. "This change is driving a rush to complete as many ground-mounted projects as possible before March 31, 2015. It is also creating serious concerns for some legacy project developers who face the prospect of reduced revenues next year, and possibly even bankruptcy."
The DECC published a consultation in May outlining steps to close access to the ROC for new PV installations above 5 MW by next year. The consultation deadline is scheduled for July 7.