UK solar deployment halved in 2017 following government’s ‘solar exit’

The UK’s solar installs across 2017 were less than half that of the previous year according to SolarPower Europe’s latest report, which has dubbed the UK “the only rainy” European country in terms of growth to 2022.

The Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2018-2021 found that the UK committed to a ‘solar exit’ in 2016 when the Renewables Obligation was closed to new generating stations up to 5MW, except for those that had qualified for grace periods.

Array of solar panels on sloped roof of detached house on an overcast morning

In addition, a revised solar feed-in tariff regime was introduced at the start of 2016 cutting the available tariffs by 65% in some cases, leading to the slowest deployment of domestic solar seen under the scheme.

SolarPower Europe findings suggest this led to just 954MW of solar being installed in 2017, down more than 50% from the 1.97GW installed in 2016, after it had already dropped 52% from 4.1GW in 2015.

This brought the overall performance of the European Union’s solar deployment down, with the UK second only to Italy in the group of 28 in installed capacity by the end of 2017.

Michael Schmela, head of market intelligence at SolarPower Europe, explained: “When looking at the 28 members of the European Union, there is little growth: the EU-28 added 5.91GW in 2017, compared to 5.89GW in 2016.

“This result stems from the UK's 'solar exit' in 2016, which halved new installations in 2017. However, 21 of the 28 EU markets added more solar than the year before.”

Read more: Solar Power Portal

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