The United Kingdom is forecast to be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) market in Europe in 2014, fuelled by the rapid growth in ground-mounted solar PV farms. More than 120 large-scale solar PV farms in the UK have recently received project-planning approval, and many of them are targeting completion within the next 12 months, according to the new NPD Solarbuzz UK Deal Tracker report.
“In the past six months, the Department of Energy and Climate Change released the United Kingdom’s ‘Solar PV Roadmap’ and ‘Solar PV Strategy’ reports, restating aspirations to hit 20 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative capacity by 2020,” noted Finlay Colville, vice-president at NPD Solarbuzz. “While reaching the long-term goal is expected to involve a blend of rooftop and ground-mounted systems, solar PV farms above 10 megawatts will provide the dominant contribution in 2014.”
By the end of April 2014, more than 325 solar PV farms in the megawatt (MW) class will have been completed within the UK, with more than 60 different sites having an installed capacity in excess of 10 MW.
An additional 444 large-scale ground-mounted solar PV farms are currently at various stages of planning in the UK, with 124 having planning applications approved and seeking to be installed before the level of support under the Renewable Obligation scheme is reduced in April 2015.
“With the UK projected to be the largest solar PV market in Europe in 2014, global component suppliers and project developers need to quickly understand the dynamics of the UK solar PV industry,” added Colville. “Aligning with suitable partners and choosing the most attractive PV projects in the pipeline will ultimately determine the winners and losers over the next 12 months.”
In addition to the opportunities arising from the multi-gigawatt pipeline of projects yet to be built, a thriving secondary market has developed for completed solar PV farms. Based on recent acquisitions of completed solar farms, the UK’s existing solar farm portfolio is valued at approximately £2.5 billion ($4.2 billion).
“Establishing a large portfolio of solar PV assets has become an attractive long-term financial proposition within the United Kingdom,” according to Colville. “The race is now on to develop and acquire solar PV farms, before the Renewable Obligations scheme is discontinued in 2017, or ahead of any legislative changes that may occur after the May 2015 general elections.”
Source: NPD Solarbuzz/solarbuzz.com
Figure: Large-scale Solar PV Farm Pipeline in the UK