IHS predicts UK utility-scale solar boom of 1.3 GW in first quarter of 2015.

The UK's Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) confirmed in October 2014 that the Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) scheme will close to ground-mount solar PV systems sized at 5 MW or larger at the end of March 2015. As a result, IHS forecasts a boom in installations in Q4 2014 and peaking in Q1 2015. ---- Due to the surge in applications for ground-mount PV systems, local authorities are refusing permit applications. Based on DECC data and the IHS PV project database, IHS estimates that more than 20% of the 6.2 GW solar projects in the pipeline will not be able to proceed. ---- Beyond March 2015, IHS expects many developers to shift focus to both <5 MW ground-mount projects that still can obtain the ROCs and also commercial roof-tops.

IHS forecasts 2014 solar PV installations to reach 2.8 GW (revised down from its earlier prediction of 3.2 GW), as projects are pushed to the end of 2014 and early 2015. IHS predicts that in Q4 2014 and Q1 2015 combined, before the ROC scheme ends, utility-scale installations will reach nearly 1.8 GW. For 2015, IHS has trimmed its forecast to 3.2 GW. The reason being that many ground-mount projects have failed to secure planning permissions.

Due to time constraints these projects will not be able to reapply in time to receive ROC certification. Some will re-scale to sub-5 MW projects in order to remain eligible for ROCs. Beyond the ROC scheme, utility-scale PV will be confined to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme that started receiving applications on 14 October. However, the competition with other technologies for a set CfD budget will limit the amount of utility-scale solar PV that can be built after 1 April 2015.

Some of the reduction in the utility-scale solar sector will be offset by greater installations of commercial and residential roof-top systems. Many companies are increasing their efforts to enter this market, with some of the largest developers moving into the roof-top sector and offering new financing models to customers and building owners. New financing models are being offered throughout the PV industry in the UK, leasing models are regaining popularity in the residential sector and for smaller commercial roof-tops.

The latest strategy from the government shows increased support for commercial rooftops, with concrete measures to be presented next year. However, the details remain unclear and the elections in 2015 could further delay any new measures.

Initially the ROC scheme offered 2 ROCs/MWh however, due to the popularity of the scheme it was announced that it would be reduced annually, the last reduction took place in April 2014 with 1.4 ROC/MWh offered for ground-mount PV systems. It was announced in July 2014 that the scheme would likely end early in Q2 2015 for systems 5 MW and larger, this was confirmed in October. As a result of the attractive policy for large-scale projects, the UK will be the largest market for solar installations in Europe in 2014 and the fourth largest globally.

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