- Solar Energy UK says the country installed 730 MW new solar PV capacity in 2021
- It includes 369 MW onsite PV installed in the residential solar segment, reflecting its strongest growth since 2015
- Residential, commercial & industrial solar now represent more than 5 GW combined capacity of the 14.6 GW total
The British solar power association, Solar Energy UK says in 2021, the country added 730 MW of new capacity, representing an annual increase of 36% from 538 MW deployed in 2020. This takes the UK’s cumulative installed capacity to 14.6 GW.
Ground mounted solar led the installations in 2021, followed by commercial scale PV, but it was the residential rooftop solar that had its strongest growth since 2015. In total, 369 MW of onsite PV (including residential, C&I) was installed – and without subsidies In comparison, 869 MW was installed in the rooftop segment in 2015 with subsidies. “2021 was potentially the most significant year to date for the UK solar industry, with each of the three market
segments – residential rooftop, commercial scale and ground-mount – now seeing stable, subsidy-free growth,” said Solar Energy UK.
Stating the reasons behind this subsidy-free growth in all segments, Solar Energy UK said this reflects confidence of homeowners, businesses and investors in solar as a clean, affordable energy that reduces dependence on unreliable fossil fuels. “High gas prices have helped stimulate the rooftop market, with commercial energy buyers installing onsite solar to protect themselves against the volatility of buying electricity based on fossil fuels,” said Solar Energy UK, adding, “Instead, they produce their power from solar – lowering costs and providing more certainty for their operations.”
Altogether rooftop solar, including residential, commercial & industrial solar, now represents more than 5 GW combined capacity, a bit more than a third of the 14.6 GW PV total.
“Setting a deployment target of 40 GW would support the industry to take long-term investment decisions and build the workforce skills that will create thousands of green jobs across the whole country,” said Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Chris Hewett. The association has been lobbying for the government to adopt at least 40 GW solar goal for 2030 (see Policy Reforms Can Help UK Achieve 40 GW Solar By 2030).
However, the actually installed PV capacity in 2021 is less than assumed. The association had earlier expected the country to exit 2021 with 1 GW solar capacity installed (see UK Installed 175 MW Solar PV Capacity In Q1/2021).
Going forward, the association believes the UK could experience further growth in its solar energy capacity driven by favorable regulations, such as the Future Homes Standard which will encourage solar deployments for new homes. The British government has also promised to end unfair tax treatment for businesses installing onsite solar renewable energy generation.
“As the UK begins to decarbonize space and water heating, the contribution of onsite solar technologies will make is also starting to be felt. There were nearly 67,000 solar PV and solar thermal installations accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme in 2021, far outperforming the number of heat pumps,” stated Solar Energy UK.