UK added 900 MW of solar in H1 2017, government data shows

Official preliminary data from the U.K.’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has revealed that the country added 900 MW of solar capacity in the first six months of the year.

Cumulative installed PV capacity stood at 11,872 MW at the end of 2016, the BEIS data shows, rising to 12,720 MW by June 30. This is preliminary data and is expected to rise, BEIS stressed.

The main surge of solar installations arrived prior to March 31, which was the cut-off date for the remaining renewable obligation certificates (ROCs) for large-scale solar farms not larger than 5 MW that qualified for a grace period. Between February and March, the data shows, the U.K.’s solar sector added 670 MW, of which 530 MW was added in March alone. Of that figure, two-thirds were built in the 50 kW to 5 MW range.

However, since March 31, solar installations have slowed significantly, with less than 100 MW installed in the second quarter.

Overall, the U.K. now has 922,509 installations of solar PV, of which 46% – or 5,890 MW – is derived from solar farms larger than 5 MW.

Residential rooftop solar PV (systems below 4 kW in size) represent 20%, or 2,502 MW, of the entire U.K. fleet.

These record levels of cumulative solar capacity are having an impact on the country’s energy mix. Data from Imperial College London found that coal supplied just 2% of the U.K.’s power in the first half of 2017, down from around 40% as recently as 2012. On a handful of days in June, solar, nuclear and wind power met 70% of the country’s energy needs, bringing the U.K.’s carbon intensity of power production below 100g of CO2 per kWh for the first time ever.