UK solar capacity almost doubled in 2014

Britain now has more than 650,000 solar installations across homes, businesses and public service buildings, according to recent figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change

Britain now boasts more than 650,000 solar PV (photovoltaic) installations as recent figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that solar electricity generation almost doubled over the course of last year.

Almost 5GW of capacity was installed at the end of 2014, up from 2.8GW at the end of 2013 – enough low-carbon power to supply the equivalent of 1.5m homes.

The 650,000 solar installations have been built across homes, offices, schools, churches, warehouses, farms, police stations, train stations and even a bridge.

The statistics, part of figures released on a monthly basis by DECC, reflect steady growth in the UK solar industry and rapidly falling costs, much of which are in the large-scale solar sector.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association (STA) commented: “This milestone achievement is testament to the hard work of Britain’s several thousand solar businesses, almost of all of them small and medium sized companies, who are all at the forefront of a real solar transformation as the technology steadily becomes one of the cheapest sources of clean, homegrown power.”

Barwell added: “We are now well underway to a million solar installations, of all shapes and sizes, across the country. This is a world-class achievement and something the coalition government can be proud of.

“Analysis has shown that solar is the most popular form of energy generation, and could provide 50,000 jobs by 2030 if given the right support.

“Solar clearly works in Britain. Panels in London generate 65% as much energy as in Madrid, and the panels work more efficiently in cooler temperatures.

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“Solar could by 2020 be cost competitive with gas and no longer need any kind of government support at all on homes and commercial roofs. But we will only reach that point if the next government provides a stable policy framework and a level playing field with other technologies.

“Last year was a rollercoaster for the solar industry, with the closure of the Renewables Obligation to large solar farms sending shockwaves of uncertainty across the renewables industry. The outlook from this April is a concern and it seems to make little sense to stymie such a success story. I hope the new government will build on this success and set higher solar targets for 2020 and provide the stable business environment the industry needs to deliver.”

The STA has developed a Solar Independence Plan, and is urging the government and all political parties to support the proposals, which will effectively double future solar ambitions for little extra cost.

Analysis has shown that the next government will have a big opportunity to get the first low-carbon technology off subsidy within the course of the next parliament.

First published by Click Green