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UK Solar Industry Celebrates Joining The GW Club

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With final figures still to come there is a possibility of breaking into the top five.

The UK has jumped to world #6 in utility-scale solar; thanks to a record month when over 500MW of new projects were connected. It has now joined the select few to have more than one gigawatt of installed capacity, according to figures released today by utility solar website Wiki-Solar.org.

Welcoming the  announcement, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said, "The UK is among the world leaders for deploying solar energy and was top in Europe for new solar projects coming online in 2013."

"The market framework created by the UK Government has resulted in significant investment in solar energy generation projects since 2010. Overall, renewable electricity generation investment of up to £40bn is expected by 2020. Our Solar Strategy launched recently, sets out our clear ambition to see further deployment of solar and help us deliver the clean energy supplies that the country needs, at the lowest possible cost to consumers, creating jobs, growth and exports."

The installed capacity of utility-scale power plants in the leading countries at the end of March.

This is a dramatic rise for a country, which just four years ago had no utility-scale capacity at all. The introduction of feed-in tariffs in 2010 stimulated the early market for smaller projects up to 5MW. Reducing costs since then have enabled PV systems to enter the more mature Renewables Obligation mechanism, with plants up to 70 MW now being planned.

It took six years for each of the European leader Germany and table-topping USA to reach the 1GW milestone. The UK has done it in four.

As Wiki-Solar's Philip Wolfe says, "even these figures may be understated. The energy regulator Ofgem has a backlog of several months in the registration process "“ when final figures are published we may find a lot more capacity was actually installed in the first quarter. I wouldn't be surprised if the UK has even overtaken Spain and broken into the top five."

This success supports Ed Davey's ambition, having pushed several British companies to the forefront of the world solar industry, while also creating a new market for leading international players. Wiki-Solar will soon be publishing further details of developers, EPC contractors, IPPs and other major participants in the UK solar market.


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