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Third Place For United Kingdom In Global Utility-Solar Rankings, Wiki-Solar

Wiki-Solar, the self-proclaimed authority on utility-scale solar, has released a new report identifying global utility-scale solar rankings for the first quarter of 2015, and the United Kingdom has “leap-frogged India and Germany” to reach third place, thanks to “a surge in installations” in Q1’15 reaching almost 1.5 GW.

“Developers and contractors pulled out all the stops to finish projects ahead of the 31st March deadline, when solar power stations over 5 MW became ineligible for the Renewables Obligation incentive mechanism,” the authors of the Wiki-Solar report wrote.

Wiki-Solar prides itself on being the “world leader in information about the deployment of solar photovoltaic power stations of 5 to 10 MW and above.” As such, it has a database of over 2,000 solar power stations worldwide, representing 60 GW. Wiki-Solar have been a valuable source of utility-scale solar information for some time. In January, Wiki-Solar released figures showing that “worldwide utility-scale solar energy installations surged for a fifth consecutive year in 2014,” passing 10 GW.

According to Wiki-Solar’s figures, cumulative capacity for the world’s top 10 countries are as follows:


However, Wiki-Solar analysts are unsure whether the UK will be able to hold on to this third position, “or whether it will drift back down the table, now the Renewables Obligation (RO) has been restricted and larger systems have to compete in the new Contracts for Difference (CfD) regime.”

As we reported late last month, IHS also highlighted the “unprecedented solar PV boom” in the UK throughout Q1’15. According to IHS, the UK installed a total of 1.6 GW worth of solar PV in Q1’15, across both small- and utility-scale installations. And, as Wiki-Solar noted, all the stops were pulled to make this happen, as Josefin Berg, a senior analyst for solar power at IHS mentioned last month:

“As in markets like Germany, France and Italy, PV developers and installers in the United Kingdom try to demonstrate how fast they can build large PV plants, once the paperwork has cleared. In fact, some of these projects received their permits as late as early February of this year.”

In particular, both Wiki-Solar and IHS highlighted Lightsource, the UK’s leading solar energy company, which now holds approximately 700 MW of utility-scale solar, and climbed into the world’s top 10 solar generators for 2014. IHS pinpointed Lightsource, Terraform Power, and Bluefield LLP as controlling one-third of the UK’s total capacity of solar PV, as seen below:


“The UK has an extremely competitive ground-mount solar market and we are delighted to be amongst those at the forefront – we installed more than 300MWp in March alone. I still believe there is huge untapped potential,” said Lightsource Chief Executive Nick Boyle.

The future of utility-scale solar in the UK unclear, and Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe expects solar PV growth to slow in the short term as many developers refocus their attention to smaller projects below the utility-scale threshold. Wolfe continued, saying, “Having said that, we may yet be understating the current figures, when the UK energy regulator catches up with the backlog of station registrations, we may find that even more projects have been connected than are currently shown in our database as having been commissioned.”

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