NewEnergyNews: UK SOLAR LEAPS FOR THE GOLD

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    Friday, June 22, 2012

    UK SOLAR LEAPS FOR THE GOLD

    The UK targets 22GW by 2020, but will the PV torch burn after the Olympics?

    Finlay Colville, June 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “…[N]ational pride is gripping the UK, with 2012 preoccupied with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the pending London Olympics…[E]qually impressive are the recent top-line numbers being cited by various parts of the UK PV industry that the UK will have accumulated 22GW of PV installations by 2020. But to reach this landmark…PV in the UK [may] be required to reach the same level of exposure as the Olympic torch…

    “While it was a marathon effort for the UK to reach a total PV installed base of 30-MW at the start of 2010, the subsequent events of late 2011 and early 2012 seemed more like a frantic sprint to the finish, with FIT deadlines impacting first the ground-mount segment and then the residential (retrofit) market…Having installed over 400MW in each of Q4'11 and Q1'12, the climate today is one of recovery after the period of stop/start legal wrangles that gripped the UK PV industry until a broadly acceptable solution was unveiled in…May 2012…”

    click to enlarge

    “The PV industry is moving and changing at a rate many have not woken up to. Attempts by various governments to ‘control’ PV deployment to ‘sustainable’ levels have rarely worked. Typically, the most attractive FITs have been met with uncontrollable pre-deadline deployment. Conversely, unattractive FITs (or retroactive cuts) have typically killed off a market. Creating a ‘sustainable’ GW-per-year market from 2012-2015 may be a tall challenge; but perhaps not if the discussion is extended beyond budget-constrained FIT limitations.

    “As consumer confidence returns, the residential UK market should benefit from the existing infrastructure created by the 2011 market growth. And if investors continue to prioritize the UK as a low-risk opportunity, then activity in the commercial rooftop and ground-mount segment could see strong (potentially unconstrained) growth…[T]he 21-22GW targets [may be met], within a 200+ GW global PV industry in which the UK provides demand at the 5GW level. But to achieve these goals, the UK industry will soon be required to look beyond the short-term FIT rates to an environment where grid-connection and utility-company participation become the ultimate barriers-to-entry.”

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