The UK brought online 233.4 MW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2019, which brought the country’s cumulative installations to 13,356 MW, statistics by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show.
The annual capacity additions last year were 60 MW less than those in 2018, which made 2019 the slowest year for the industry since 2010. This, the government indicated in its report, is the result of the closure of the feed-in-tariff (FiT) support scheme in March 2019.
Last year, the market for small systems of up to 4 kW in size expanded by 91.7 MW, while the one for installations of between 4 kW and 10 kW in size increased by just 32.4 MW. Some 67.1 MW of PV plants of 10 kW-50 kW were commissioned in 2019, while only 0.3 MW went live in the 50 kW-5 MW category. BEIS reported that 7.2 MW of plants went online in the 5 MW-25 MW capacity category and 34.7 MW of the new installations were plants larger than 25 MW.
At the end of 2019, the UK had 13,356 MW of solar PV capacity connected to the grid, coming from one million installations, as compared to 13,122 MW at end-2018. The majority of this capacity is from solar parks of between 5 MW and 25 MW, or 4,399 MW. Power plants in the 50 kW-50 MW category were next with 3,525 MW installed. Small-scale systems of up to 4 kW contributed with 2,699 MW.
Following the release of the data, the UK Solar Trade Association alarmed that the BEIS statistics are based on incomplete datasets. It explained that the provided data fails “to accurately capture” PV systems of above 50 kW, as the 50 kW-5 MW category was not updated since March 2019, adding that a number of facilities larger than 25 MW were plugged in last year, while BEIS reported just one 34.7 MW plant.
“They paint a picture of a stagnating market, when in fact solar in the UK is stable and recovering after a difficult couple of years,” said the association’s CEO Chris Hewett. According to him, the industry “continues to gather momentum in the subsidy-free era” and this triggers expectations for a glut of the deployment of solar projects in the coming years.
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