Strong Growth of Renewable Energy in UK

Two recent announcements highlight the success of the UK feed-in tariff according to consulting firm Ownergy and research consultancy iSupply. Ownergy announced that the UK figures on initial installations are out and show that the commercial sector was more active in renewable energy applications than the government had originally predicted.

Of the 20.7 MW of total installed capacity that has been registered for the UK feed-In tariff scheme since it went live on April 1, 6.4 MW was installed by the commercial sector, well ahead of initial government predictions that forecasted the domestic sector accounting for a far higher majority of the installation capacity.

In total, 4,609 installations were registered for the feed-In tariffs with the figures showing a significant monthly increase in the total number of installations being registered. In terms of quantity, the residential market accounted for the lion share of the total number with 4,541 registered installations – a figure that rose from just 408 in April. With the average domestic installation being 2.7 kW in size and all but 112 being solar PV installations, the average financial return for these early adopters can be predicted at £2,000 a year. With an average installation cost of around £12,000, these early adopters will on average achieve an 8 to 12% return over the 25 year lifetime of the solar PV tariffs.

The commercial sector showed a far lower number of installations, with just 55 registered between April 1st and July 31st. However, the average size of the installations was far higher and spread more equally between solar PV and wind schemes, as well as 6 hydro-power plants going live.

Although two times that of the average residential installation, the average size of the commercial solar PV installations was the smallest in the sector at 5.7kW. Wind schemes averaged an impressive 106kW but it was the size of hydro-schemes that stole the show with the six registered schemes averaging at 553kW. At this stage, no anaerobic digestion or micro-CHP schemes have been registered, according to Ownergy.

UK as Fastest-Growing Solar Market in 2010

Henning Wicht, PhD of iSupply released a report that predicts installations of PV systems in the United Kingdom will amount to 96 Megawatts (MW) in 2010, up an astounding 1,500 percent from 6 MW in 2009. While the country’s growth will start from a nearly negligible level in 2009, the expansion will dramatically outpace the growth of the next fastest-growing nation—Spain—which will rise by approximately 730 percent in 2010, said iSupply.

“When you think of weather in the United Kingdom, London fog comes to mind more readily than bright sunshine,” said Wicht who is a senior director and principal analyst for iSuppli. “However, things definitely are looking brighter for the solar market in the United Kingdom in 2010, as the country has adopted attractive Feed-in-Tariffs (FIT) to promote PV adoption. Furthermore, with leading solar country Germany cutting its FITs, the focus of the PV world is shifting to places with more favorable incentives—making the United Kingdom a solar hotspot this year.”

While growth in the United Kingdom is expected to slow down from such a blistering rate after 2010, PV installations will continue to rise in the 50 percent range for each year through 2014.

iSupply’s predictions on the UK PV market are shown in the chart below.

More on the iSupply report, PV Market Has a Solid Case for a Robust 2011, can be found here.

On a recent webcast sponsored by Alta Terra Research and co-produced by, feed-in tariff expert, Paul Gipe called the UK FIT a very innovative program.  “I think we’re going to see a lot more out of Britain,” he said.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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