Collaboration in the UK large-scale solar PV industry is key in delivering government targets 

A dynamic partnership – The UK’s largest solar energy generator expands operational portfolio with one of Europe’s leading renewable energy installers, juwi.

juwi, one of Europe’s leading renewable energy installers, has entered into a project agreement with the UK’s largest solar energy generator, Lightsource Renewable Energy, who has purchased two large-scale solar farms. The installed capacity totaling 12.48 MWp has been added to the Lightsource asset management portfolio in the UK whilst juwi will be retained under an operations and maintenance contract to ensure both plants perform at optimal generation levels.

Jan Sisson, Managing Director of juwi Renewable Energies, said “The projects have been tough to construct during the difficult winter conditions earlier this year, but we are delighted to be working with Lightsource to add these solar farms to the increasing installed base of renewables on the UK’s grid.”
Nick Boyle, CEO of Lightsource Renewable Energy, said, “When comparing the UK with countries in Europe like Spain and Germany, solar PV here is still in its infancy. Collaborating with experts like juwi enable us to gain valuable experience and expertise, pushing the UK solar PV industry to maturity.”
“Recent speculation that Britain will experience an ‘energy drought’ in 5 years’ time needs to be seriously addressed. Solar PV is a technology that can and will make a difference; we just need to pull together as an industry to show people that it can.” Boyle concludes.

Solar farms are becoming increasingly popular in the UK as they provide attractive land diversification options for farmers. The solar farm area can also be used to graze small livestock like chickens and sheep and wildflower planting can enhance biodiversity, benefitting local wildlife like birds and bees.
Hear Nick Boyle, CEO of Lightsource RE, speak at The Solar Future UK '13 on 16 July in London.


The 20 GW Road The UK Has To Travel


SOLARBUZZ - With cumulative solar PV installations in the UK breaking the 2.5 GW barrier in April 2013, understanding what the drivers have been, and which regions in the UK have benefited the most, can help explain some of the challenges ahead in reaching the 2020 target deployment levels. Finlay Colville, Vice-President at NPD Solarbuzz discusses the new UK solar PV landscape and looks at how 20 GW may be achieved.

Friday 14th June 2013

During April 2013, solar photovoltaic (PV) demand in the UK broke through the 2.5 GW barrier, confirming the explosive growth within the past three years. At the start of 2010, cumulative solar PV deployment in the UK was less than 40 MW. But with the introduction of feed-in-tariffs (FITs) at the start of 2010, declining module and system pricing, and attractive returns from renewable obligation certificate (ROC) availability at the end of 2012, the solar PV industry has truly flourished and this has put the UK on the global PV stage at last.
Drawing on over ten years analysing the UK solar PV market, and performing detailed analysis on a UK-specific database that now includes over 1,500 commercial PV projects, this article shows the PV application segments and the geographic regions that have contributed to the 2.5 GW of cumulative PV in the UK, and reviews the key issues confronting a new energy segment seeking to participate within the UK’s long-term energy supply needs.
The Drivers for PV in the UK
On 16 April 2013, Greg Barker, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), tweeted the following from @GregBarkerMP: “#SolarPV continuing to make real progress. Latest stats show [UK] #Solar up from 1.8 GW in January to nearly 2.5 GW now. Staggering! #Green Ambition.”
To the casual observer, it could have been inferred that a long-term objective had finally been realized! But very few, if any, seasoned followers of UK
PV activity had remotely contemplated this landmark achievement just a few years ago.
Indeed, solar had been a second tier renewable technology for years in the UK, largely dismissed by most politicians in the past as too costly, and rarely mentioned alongside wind, biomass, nuclear, tidal or wave energy aspirations. However, the government recently established a Solar PV Strategy Group and is about to release a solar-specific working document outlining the role of solar within the long-term energy mix for the country. Furthermore, the speculative ‘20 GW by 2020’ phrase has now become embedded as an ‘unofficial binding’ target of sorts, adopted by almost everyone in the UK as a tangible litmus test of the government’s real commitment to solar PV.
Solar specific rhetoric aside, the UK continues to struggle with its renewable energy strategy, with no shortage of disparate views from respective politicians across the political spectrum going back well over ten years. Reclassifying nuclear as ‘green’ on account of CO2 emission levels was previously tabled... Read the full article here

Read up before you meet up

In two weeks time The Solar Future: UK '13 will take place in London. With a speaker line-up of solar super stars, you’ll be guaranteed to hear where the British solar PV market is going and how you should innovate to keep up!

So what can you expect? To get a glimpse of the visions and expertise represented at this unique conference, catch up on the latest quotes and opinions of some of the speakers:


“I want local energy markets to take off just in the way the local food economy is growing. Just as people look to buy locally I want residents to adopt a local mindset for community scale renewables.”

- Greg Barker (in: The Guardian)

Greg Barker in The Guardian


“Solar PV will be a key player in national energy mixes beyond 2020, in other words, including in the UK. EDF still won't even be close to connecting their Hinkley Point version of Flamanville by 2020, by their own admission, even if they get the go ahead from the government for the huge subsidies they will need.”

- Jeremy Leggett (in: The Guardian)

Jeremy Leggett in The Guardian


"The thing that the European (anti-dumping) case did was it really, finally brought to the table a more mature partner [the EC] to try to negotiate a settlement with China. Even now, I just got confirmation that the United States has not engaged China yet formally. If the EC comes up with a deal, the United States might sign on, but they have never even been in the room."

- Jigar Shah (in: PV Magazine)

Jigar Shah in PV Magazine


“First Dog, Bo, today announced that the solar panels installed on his Presidential doghouse have successfully reduced his carbon paw print, and he is hounding President Obama to follow suit.”

- Danny Kennedy (in: Sungevity Blog)

Danny Kennedy in Sungevity Blog


“At less than 100 € / MWh, the electricity produced by Solairedirect can become competitive and accessible to all and also an important part of the energy mix of communities who want to implement the energy transition”

- Thierry Lepercq (in: CNBC)

Thierry Lepercq in CNBC


“The tremendous success of the first quarter of 2013 reinforces Lightsource’s position as the leading developer of utility scale solar in the UK. It is my firm belief that the UK has one of the most robust solar markets in the world. These results show we are well on track to achieving the government’s target of 22GW installed solar PV by 2020.”

- Nick Boyle (in: Solar Power Portal)

Nick Boyle on Solar Power Portal



Solar power still better than nuclear in the fight against climate change

By Jeremy Leggett

George Monbiot claims in a gentlemanly article to have won our £100 bet, made three years ago, that solar PV would be at grid parity – the same cost as conventional retail electricity – by 2013.

The very good news is that over the past three years, the actual average price of installed residential solar PV has come down some 60%, while the cost of new nuclear has gone up 70% and is still rising. I base the former on the real achievement at my company Solarcentury and the latter on a recent compilation in Le Monde of data for EDF's Flamanville EPR reactor, the type of nuclear plant nuclear advocates like George want to foist on the UK economy at great cost to the public, starting at Hinkley Point.

The slightly bad news is that I probably lost my bet. Solar-industry people have been e-mailing me pleading that I argue the toss, pointing out that solar markets like the Netherlands are already at grid parity, and that by using somewhat lawyerly points I can defend my ground when it comes to the UK. I can't be bothered, because anyone studying the pattern of play in any detail will know that if I lost, it wasn't by much.

By way of illustration, read this extract of what Dave Edwards of Solarcentury said below George's article. I can't better it:

Grid parity has a clear and widely accepted definition: when the levelised cost of solar (falling rapidly) crosses the cost of grid electricity (rising rapidly). The average retail price of electricity in the UK is 14.5p according to EST or Decc's own statistics. Plenty of anecdotal evidence would suggest higher. ....Levelised cost of solar ... is 15.3p, at a 5% discount rate. If you used the risk free rate of 3.5%, as some energy economists would argue you should, it is substantially less. So in my view, you [Monbiot] win this battle, if only by a matter of months; but PV is winning the war, at least on paper.

Source: The Guardian


Push for solar power that could cover a hundred Olympic parks

The Government is planning a massive expansion of solar farms across Britain, despite being warned the electricity system will struggle to cope with the increase in power.

Greg Barker, the energy and climate change minister, has disclosed that it is his “ambition” for 20GW of energy to be produced by solar panels in 2020 - effectively a ten fold increase in the number of solar farms currently built or being planned.

That level of solar power would amount to panels, many up to ten feet tall, covering a total area of land equivalent to more than 100 times the size of London’s Olympic park.

However, ministers have been warned that such a steep increase in power could overload Britain’s electricity system.

The National Grid, the body responsible for the transmission of electricity across Britain, told Mr Barker’s Department of Energy and Climate Change last year that building more than 10GW of solar panels would make controlling the grid “significantly more challenging in its current form”.

The warning suggests that solar farms will, like wind farms, have to be paid not to produce electricity.

Read full article


UK tops Europe’s utility-scale solar market for 2013

Figures published today show that the United Kingdom is now Europe’s most attractive market for large solar installations. The research by utility solar experts Wiki-Solar shows that the UK topped Europe in the first  five months of the year with over 1/3GW of new installations of 5MW and over.

Cumulative and year-to-date capacity figures for all countries are as follows:


The UK is not simply top in Europe, but also ranks as the fourth-highest growth market in the world this year, behind The US and China, which are locked in a race to reach the world #1 slot, and Asia’s other growth market India.

European focus shifts to UK

Under existing UK regulations solar power plants at any scale are eligible for support under the Renewables Obligation, while installations up to 5MW can alternatively receive support under the Feed-in Tariffs. While support under both mechanisms has recently been reduced, the continuing price reductions mean that good projects in the South and in the Midlands are still viable. Planning consent for over 160 projects was approved in the 16 months to April 2013, and new applications are still flooding in.



The knock-on effects of solar panel tariffs will be huge

Greg Barker, for The Telegraph

So it should be no surprise that we are deeply concerned by the European Commission’s proposals to introduce protective tariffs on the import of solar panels from China.

The renewables industry is booming all over the world. In Sweden, electricity from onshore and offshore wind has shot up seven-fold since the Alliance Government came to power in 2006. Here, the coalition Government has equally overseen a huge expansion in its wind-powered generation – which currently stands at 5.5 gigawatts (GW). The International Energy Agency estimates that renewable electricity could be the world’s second largest source of electricity production as early as 2015.

The main reason is the falling cost of renewables. In just three years, the per kilowatt cost of installing solar electricity has dropped by around 60pc, made possible by technological advances, subsidies to support deployment and increased trade between continents.


Read full article at The Telegraph


Never been a better time to invest in solar power

The Minister for Energy and Climate Change told the Information Daily that solar energy can no longer be in the "shadows", and that its price should be reduced to compete with other energy sources.

As part of the Information Daily's focus on environmental policy this week, we look back at the London opening of the BRE National Solar Centre in January 2013 with an interview with the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker.

"Despite the dramatic falls in costs and prices over the last couple of years," he told The Information Daily, "we've still got a way to go".

The Minister for Energy and Climate Change believes that the way forward in transforming solar energy from a concept into a widely used form of power is sharing, and open data.


Read full article at The Information Daily


UK solar PV demand reached 520MW in Q1 2013

PV-TECH - Demand for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in the United Kingdom (UK) grew significantly to reach 520MW in the first quarter of 2013, driven by a strong push from large-scale ground-mount PV projects completed during March 2013. Cumulative PV demand in the UK has now exceeded 2.5GW, with 93% of this demand having being realised in the past two years, according to the latest bottom-up analysis derived from the NPD Solarbuzz UK deal-tracker database that now includes over 1,400 non-residential PV projects.

The UK PV industry is currently benefiting from a stable funding mechanism for both residential and non-residential segments through solar-specific feed-in tariff (FiT) and Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) incentives, with known degression criteria and timeline. Furthermore, the local PV industry associations are seeing strong support and engagement with Greg Barker, the energy and climate change minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). This is providing increased confidence for project developers to expand large-scale ground-mount pipelines for deployment to the end of 2013 and beyond, accessing ground-mount and building-mount ROC rates.


Announcements directly from Greg Barker at DECC are now providing enhanced clarity on the growth of the UK PV market. On 18 April 2013, Barker tweeted that cumulative PV demand was approaching the 2.5GW level. On 25 April at the Large-Scale UK Solar conference in Truro, Barker announced during his keynote presentation that over 400MW of solar PV had been installed specifically under the ROC scheme. These announcements are fully aligned with the NPD Solarbuzz bottom-up analysis of the UK PV market size and confirm the level of PV deployment seen in the UK over the past two years under both the FiT and ROC schemes.


Read full article at PV-Tech


PV-Tech interviews Henning Wicht at SNEC