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UK's utility-scale solar capacity passes 4gw mark

UK's utility-scale solar capacity passes 4gw mark

UK'S utility-scale solar capacity passes 4gw mark

New half-year figures from Wiki-Solar show the UK holding its ground as the world's third-biggest generator of utility-scale solar energy.

The data, which was published on July 13th, shows that the cumulative capacity of the country's solar farms has passed the four-gigawatt mark, at 4.12 gigawatts from 461 plants - almost a tenth of the 45 gigawatts output globally.

UK's utility-scale solar capacity passes 4gw mark

Just the US, with 10.45 gigawatts from 604 plants, and China, with 10.04 gigawatts from 344 plants, generate more solar energy from utility-scale facilities. The top six countries remain unchanged since the end of the first quarter of 2015, which was when the UK leapfrogged Germany and India into the number three spot. In the three months to March alone, it installed two gigawatts of new capacity.

Utility-scale solar energy is defined as the output of plants with a capacity of more than four megawatts. To date in 2015, new and expanded solar farms have contributed an additional eight gigawatts to global output. Should this rate of progress be sustained, the year as a whole will beat 2014's record of 14 gigawatts of new capacity.

Philip Wolfe, founder of Wiki-Solar, added that even outside of the world's top contributors to utility-scale solar energy, significant advances are being made. "Developments in countries further down the list are also interesting," he commented. "Japan, France and Canada are all continuing to build capacity, and it looks to be only a matter of time before they too overtake Spain."

Moreover, Wiki-Solar's analysts noted that as it often takes time for data on new capacity in China to become available, the far-east country may actually have "retaken the top slot".

The growing role of solar power in Britain

Earlier this month, shortly before temperatures in the UK reached a record high of almost 37 degrees Celcius on July 3rd, national industry body the Solar Trade Association (STA) forecast that the day would see 15 per cent of the country's energy needs met by solar power.

Much of this will have come from utility-scale facilities, although smaller, community and business-led installations such as roof-mounted panels also make a significant contribution to the UK's total solar capacity.

According to the the Department of Energy and Climate Change's most recent figures, released on January 29th, this reached five gigawatts at the end of 2014 - an increase of 2.2 gigawatts on 2013 and enough to supply power for 1.5 million homes.

On that occasion, STA chief executive Paul Barwell commented: "We are now well underway to a million solar installations, of all shapes and sizes, across the country.

"This is a world-class achievement and something the coalition government can be proud of."

 

Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of ThinkStock