More than 125,000 homes in the UK installed solar PV systems on their roofs last year, according to the latest statistics on small-scale installations from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
In addition to these numbers regarding small-scale installations, the statistics also revealed that around 700 MW of solar power capacity was installed on commercial buildings and in ground-mounted solar farms last year as well. That’s the equivalent of providing all the electricity needed for ~212,000 homes.
Accompanying the release of these statistics was also the announcement of the tariffs to be paid out for the April–June period beginning in a few months.
The growth seen in the residential sector in 2014 (as demonstrated by the above figures) means that, for the first time in a few years (since 2012), the tariff paid out for the residential class is being reduced not because of the automatic reduction that occurs every nine months, but because of the actual figures.
Residential wasn’t the only sector that saw growth though — solar PV installations between 10 kW and 50 kW in size (schools, village halls, small businesses) rose by more than 50% between October and December 2014 as compared against the previous three months.
A business analyst at the Solar Trade Association, David Pickup, commented on the figures thusly:
We are particularly pleased to see good levels of growth in the large rooftop market with 33 MW of solar — 164 installations — installed in the last three months of 2014, more than double that in the previous quarter.
But this isn’t enough — as we have shown in our model of the Feed in Tariff budget, we need to see more solar going up on roofs and more gradual reductions in the tariff to get to the industry’s goal of subsidy-free solar. Our Solar Independence Plan sets out how we can restructure the Feed in Tariff to get more solar for very little extra money and give a path to zero subsidy.
As it stands, the biggest projects that qualify for the feed-in tariff — projects between 50 kW and 5 MW in size — saw a fairly high rate of deployment, high enough to result in a lowered tariff (this was due to happen anyways, though).
“A word of warning on larger rooftop and smaller or community solar farm projects,” Pickup continued: “if the FiT is not redesigned along the lines of our Solar Independence Plan to allow more room for growth for systems of this size, the tariff could soon reduce to almost nothing — snuffing out this key market as it gets going.”
Those interested in digging further can find the stats here.