Government figures suggest British solar industry past major landmark last week, as installers work towards delivering one million roofs by 2015
The solar power industry appears to have installed its 500,000th set of panels in the UK in recent days, in a move that marks a major milestone for the burgeoning sector.
According to figures by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 499,687 solar schemes had been installed by January 5 under the feed-in tariff scheme that supports solar arrays with a capacity smaller than 50kW.
However, it remains to be seen how close the industry is towards its goal of installing one million solar arrays specifically on homes by 2015. On one hand, the figures show that only 478,875 of the installations were definitely fitted on domestic rooftops, with larger installations likely to have featured on offices and commercial properties. But Leonie Greene of the Solar Trade Association argued that several thousand panels were installed on rooftops before the feed-in tariff began, meaning that the industry is likely to have delivered around half a million domestic installations.
She welcomed the data as further evidence of the growing popularity of solar technology in the UK and predicted that the sector’s target for 2015 now looked “very achievable”.
She told BusinessGreen:
“Politicians may be fighting about energy and climate change in Westminster, but the public are just getting on with it. A quiet solar revolution has been taking place led by half a million everyday households. Polls show over and over that the public back renewables and they have indeed put their hands in their pockets to prove it.”
The government figures reveal that the installations have provided more than 1.8GW of capacity to the grid.
Speaking at an event in Parliament last week, Climate Change Minister Greg Barker predicted the UK will pass the 3GW of capacity milestone in the coming months, when utility scale solar projects are taken into account.
“That is more than any other country in Europe and puts us right up there in the growth sectors of anywhere in the world, it’s a staggering achievement.”