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2014 kicks off with record-breaking quarter for the UK solar PV Industry

The UK solar PV (photovoltaic) industry installed 1085MW during the first three-month period from January to March 2014, making it a record first quarter. The department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has also issued the long-awaited Solar Strategy, the first dedicated solar strategy released by any European government. This signals the incredible growth of the UK PV solar sector in the last few years.

The new PV systems seem to have recovered from the anti-dumping case that was bought to a conclusion in October 2013. Since this conclusion, the ground-mount segment has gone from strength to strength. This blog looks into the story of the solar PV industry so far and take s look at the new solar strategy, a ground-breaking development in the solar industry.

It is an exciting time for solar power in the UK. The government has just issued a brand spanking new solar strategy that includes an ambitious target to have one million solar homes in the UK by 2015. This is a very bold but possible achievement if the new strategy can boost solar by 50 per cent in the next year. Lets take a look at the new strategy and what the estimated projections are for solar in the coming years.

What is in the solar strategy?

The solar strategy placed emphasis on encouraging rooftop solar, particularly in underachieving commercial-scale sectors. The strategy also confirms that the government is targeting one million homes in 2015. The energy minister Greg Barker MP spoke at the opening of the SunSolarEnergy’s new solar assembly in Birmingham.

“We have managed to put ourselves among the world leaders in solar and this strategy will help us stay there. There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy, Barker said. “Solar not only benefits the environment, it has the potential to create thousands of jobs across the region and deliver the clean and reliable energy supplies that the country needs at the lowest possible cost to consumers.”

Projections for solar

The UK solar strategy anticipates that solar will be on a par with gas by 2025. Currently the UK roof solar industry is behind the rest of Europe where solar is already almost at parity. The problem is that the solar modules are only a small portion of the cost for solar. Installers come across many more issues, such as: skilled labour, grid connections, finance, mounts, land or roof rentals, planning permission and processes, operation and maintenance. These existing issues have been addressed in the new strategy and given that solar competes with retail electricity prices, industry professionals anticipate that the UK solar will be on a par with gas much sooner, even by the end of the decade. The US solar giants expect to reach parity with gas in 2017, three years earlier than the first initiative published by The States. It looks like solar has a tendency to beat deadlines.

Are there any problems with the solar PV strategy?

The UK needs to ensure that there is a stable policy framework in order to make solar has a minimum balance of system costs. There also needs to be a framework in place to make the transition to solar as smooth as possible. This framework should minimise the risk and cost of solar, taking into consideration grid connections, registration processes and any additional regulations. The customer doesn’t need any surprises.

The strategy may also pose a fresh challenge to the UK ground-mount solar farms as the solar strategy favours rooftop solar.

“We want to move the emphasis for growth away from large solar farms and instead focus on opening up the solar market for the U.K.’s estimated 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial rooftops,” Barker said.

Overall, the new solar strategy has been received positively and solar is expected to grow immensely in the coming years.

What do you think about the new solar strategy? Do you have a south facing rooftop and would you be willing to install PV solar on your roof? Do you think solar will boom earlier than the predicted 2025 in the strategy? Tell us your thoughts below.

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