The power of the sun coupled with the lure of feed in tariffs has seen solar energy capacity in the UK grow by a massive 900% in just under 18 months.
According to figures released by energy and environmental consultancy firm AEA, solar power is shining through an otherwise gloomy economic forecast for the UK’s economy.
Solar panels now account for nearly 75% of the capacity of renewable installations in the UK claiming the feed in tariff, a trend that looks set to continue even after an early reduction in support levels for large scale solar.
The early reductions in incentives further pushed along uptake, with large solar farms springing up in record time in order to beat the August 1 deadline. A 4.9MW solar farm located at Hawton in Nottinghamshire developed by Lark Energy was constructed in just 6 weeks and a 15 megawatt facility located in rural Cornwall was completed in just 10 weeks.
The city of Sheffield has emerged as the UK’s solar energy stronghold, reaching over eight times as much installed capacity per 1,000 people as London and fifteen times as much as Manchester.
The outlook for the UK PV sector continues to look good, with growth expected from social housing installations and the implementation of a fund of £100m by Barclays, designed to assist farmers in gaining finance for renewable energy projects
The latest AEA Microgeneration Index also shows wind energy and hydro power installations have doubled since the commencement of the feed in tariff initiative.
The UK’s feed in tariff program is primarily based on a gross model, paying for every kilowatt hour of electricity produced. It also offers an additional payment for surplus energy exported to the mains grid. The amount paid depends on the technology and the size of the system.
Currently, solar households and businesses with systems under 10kW capacity receive between 37.8 and 43.3 pence per kilowatt hour for electricity generated; approximately 60 – 68c Australian (current exchange rates), plus an extra 3 pence per kilowatt hour (AUD .047) for any surplus electricity exported.