• BEIS says in the year 2019, the UK installed 233.4 MW of new solar PV capacity
  • This added to take the cumulative capacity of the country to more than 13.35 GW in the form of 1,025,044 installations
  • More than 5.97 GW of the aggregate comes from 461 large scale installations of over 5 MW
  • The STA is not happy with the BEIS reporting as it claims the government department does not accurately account for system sizes of above 50 kW for the year 2019

During the 12 months of 2019, the UK added a paltry 233.4 MW of solar PV. Till the end of December 2019, the cumulative solar PV deployment in the UK reached 13,356 MW across 1,025,044 installations, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

A year back, BEIS shared provisional numbers for the year 2018 as 268.39 MW adding to the cumulative of 13,096 MW. However, the Solar Trade Association (STA) of UK claims 233.4 MW translates into an annual reduction of over 60 MW.

In December 2019, the BEIS says, 2,327 systems were installed, over a third fewer than in December 2018 as the feed-in-tariff (FIT) came to an end in March 2019.

Of the total 13.35 GW, 5,973 MW or 44.7% comes from 461 large scale installations of more than 5 MW. “Whilst 92.9% of all installations are sub-4kW, these only amount to 20.2% (2,699.1 MW) of total installed solar PV capacity in the UK,” said BEIS.    

Incomplete data

STA called out the UK government for the ‘serious flaws’ in the accuracy of its PV deployment data as it claims the statistics fail to accurately capture PV systems sized above 50 kW. The BEIS data does not update on the 50 kW to 5 MW category since March 2019 and adds only 34.7 MW Gridserve facility to the more than 25 MW category (see UK’s ‘Most Advanced’ Solar PV Farm Completed).

Another 50 MW Staughton Solar Farm was commissioned by NextEnergy Solar Fund in December 2019 as the country’s ‘largest’ subsidy-free PV facility in the UK, which the STA claims is among a number of systems larger than 50 kW installed and powered up throughout 2019 that were not counted by BEIS.

Continuing to publish incomplete datasets is extremely negligent and inconsiderate of the effect it can have on investor confidence. They paint a picture of a stagnating market, when in fact solar in the UK is stable and recovering after a difficult couple of years,” said STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett. “The industry continues to gather momentum in the subsidy-free era, and we expect to see a glut of projects deployed over the coming years, some underpinned by Power Purchase Agreements and others that are purely merchant.” 

Citing a May 2019 report of the independent advisory body to the UK government, Committee on Climate Change, the STA argues the country needs more than 40 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030 to remain on track with its carbon budgets.