UK Solar Capacity Reaches 15.9 GW, Falling Short of Targets

The United Kingdom's installed capacity has reached 15.9 gigawatts (GW), as per the latest data released by the government's Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). The figures, published on May 30, 2024, reveal an addition of 190 megawatts (MW) of capacity in the first four months of 2024, a decrease from the 330 MW added during the same period in 2023.

Despite adding 916 MW of solar capacity in 2023, making it the second-highest year for installations with 191,524 new systems, it only ranked fifth in terms of new capacity. This discrepancy was attributed to the predominance of smaller installations.

The majority of capacity additions in the first four months of 2024 were also in the small-scale category. Installations with capacities of 4 kW or below accounted for 84 MW of the 190 MW added, with 4 kW to 10 kW installations contributing 69 MW, and 10 kW to 50 kW installations adding the remaining 37 MW. Notably, no new installations exceeding 50 kW capacity were recorded during this period, unlike in 2023.

At the end of April 2024, approximately 88% of the 1.5 million UK solar installations recorded were domestic systems. Ground-mounted solar, however, represented 49% (7.7 GW) of the total solar capacity, including two operational solar farms accredited under (CfDs).

CfDs are expected to play a significant role in boosting solar deployment in the UK. The fifth UK CfD auction saw almost 2 GW of capacity tendered across 56 projects, and the sixth auction, which closed for applications on April 19, 2024, included a GBP 120 million ($152,535) pot for “established technologies” like solar.

Mark Sommerfeld, Deputy Director of Policy at the Association for and Clean Technology (REA), commented on the UK's solar targets, stating that current deployment of around 16 GW falls short of the 70 GW target set for 2035. He emphasized the need for a “step change” in deployment and urged the next government to implement recommendations made by the Solar Taskforce to accelerate solar delivery.

Regardless of the outcome of the UK General Election on July 4, Sommerfeld stressed the urgency for the government to address connection time scales and strengthen solar supply chains to meet critical targets for new solar capacity.

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