Wind developers to determine the fate of UK utility-scale solar under the CfD scheme.

"The announced preliminary Contracts for Difference (CfD) budget of £50 million would allow for at most 800 MW of utility-scale PV in the first allocation round, but the real opportunity for solar PV projects will fully depend on the participation rate of competing onshore wind projects

As DECC plans to end the support for utility-scale PV under the ROC scheme by 1 April 2015, the future of ground-based PV hinges on the success of projects in the CfD auction. Given the competitive pricing of onshore wind and small hydro, IHS considers the opportunity for PV projects in the first allocation round to lie in a possibly low participation rate of onshore wind projects. Since the more profitable ROC scheme runs for onshore wind until 2017, the first CfD auction is likely to see few onshore wind projects. There is still a possibility, however, that some wind developers will seek first mover advantage by entering the CfD scheme early on.


In the case that most of the CfD budget in the first allocation round would go to PV; IHS estimates that 800 MW of PV capacity could be approved. In contrast, IHS forecasts that 4 GW of utility-scale PV will be installed in the UK in 2014 and Q1 2015 under the previous ROC scheme that will no longer be available to >5MW projects after March 2015. If the budget remains the same in future auctions, PV will gradually get squeezed out by onshore wind projects. This would be fully in line with the UK government's strategy to shift PV deployment from utility-scale ground-based projects to rooftop installations. IHS forecasts the UK PV market in 2018 to install 2.7 GW of which 80% on roofs.

According to the IHS PV Project Database, the UK pipeline of utility-scale projects has swelled to 5.2 GW. Of this capacity, at least 843 MW (57 projects) are under construction or ready to be built. IHS forecasts that more than 3 GW of new capacity could come into operation by 1 April 2015."

Background:

On 24 July, DECC announced the preliminary budget for renewables support under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, allocating GBP 50 million per year in the first allocation round to established renewables technologies (onshore wind >5 MW, photovoltaic >5 MW, energy from waste, small hydro, landfill- and sewage gas). Projects using these technologies will compete on bid prices in the first allocation round, scheduled for October 2014. This follows an earlier announcement that support for solar PV projects great er than 5MW in size would no longer be eligible for the feed-in tariff and that instead the Government would aim to support roof-top solar. The UK is expected to become the largest solar PV market in Europe in 2014.

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