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UK solar power 'almost doubled' in 2014

UK solar power 'almost doubled' in 2014

UK solar power 'almost doubled' in 2014

British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who install their own solar panels contributed to an unprecedented increase in the UK's solar capacity last year, according to new figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).

The data, released last week (January 29th), shows that the number of solar installations in the country climbed to 650,000 in 2014, bringing total capacity to around five gigawatts - enough to supply power for 1.5 million homes.

UK solar power doubled in 2014

This compares to just 2.8 gigawatts at the end of 2013, meaning that solar power generation practically doubled over the 12-month period, Decc announced.

Commenting on the figures, Paul Barwell - chief executive of the Solar Trade Association - said that the increase was a "world-class achievement" and "something the coalition government can be proud of."

However, he also singled out UK SMEs for particular praise: "This milestone achievement is testament to the hard work of Britain's several thousand solar businesses, almost of all of them small and medium-sized companies," the industry expert remarked.

He said Britain's small businesses were "at the forefront of a real solar transformation as the technology steadily becomes one of the cheapest sources of clean, home-grown power."

Moreover, according to Mr Barwell, this revolution is only just beginning. He claimed that with the right support, solar power could create 50,000 jobs by 2030, adding that the technology "clearly works" in Britain's temperate climate.

"Panels in London generate 65 per cent as much energy as in Madrid and the panels work more efficiently in cooler temperatures," Mr Barwell said.

The road to 2020

The costs of solar power have halved in the past four years, and most analysts and investors expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. In a November report, the Solar Trade Association predicted that the technology will be cost-competitive with gas at some point between 2025 and 2028. Now, Mr Barwell expects to see this shift by 2020.

There remains scope, however, for the next government to destabilise this positive progress. As such, the industry expert urged policymakers not to "stymie such a success story" as outlined in last week's Decc figures.

"I hope the new government will build on this success and set higher solar targets for 2020 and provide the stable business environment the industry needs to deliver," he said.

Meanwhile, the Solar Trade Association is not the only body to have marked 2020 as a key date for UK solar power. Berlin-based thinktank Thema1 recently said that the technology ought to be viable in Britain without government subsidies by that year, both in commercial and residential installations.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, small distributed capacity - which describes green energy projects such as rooftop solar panels - commanded spending of $73.5 billion (£48.9 billion) worldwide in 2014.

Solar power as a whole accounted for investments worth $149.6 billion over the 12-month period - almost half of the entire global green energy market.

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of Thinkstock