The UK solar industry installed 545MWp (DC) of new solar PV capacity during 2020, the first full calendar year when no government subsidies were on offer.

This strong deployment level represents over 25% year-on-year growth compared to 2019 when FiTs were finally removed at the start of that year.

There are now three key segments for UK solar: residential, large commercial rooftop (typically 250kW and above), and utility-scale solar farms (capacity above 30-40MW). Each of these is expected to grow during 2021, pushing the UK into a key GW-plus subsidy-free market going forward.

This article talks through our in-house data supporting trends in deployment for solar in the UK, across the various rooftop and ground-mount segments of the market.

The first graph below shows the quarterly solar capacity deployed in the UK during 2020, split out by residential rooftop, commercial rooftop and ground-mount. The ground-mount part of the market is dominated by large utility-scale projects, which is important to differentiate from public-sector/utility-company small-scale sites.

Putting this quarterly deployment into context, the graph below now shows quarterly deployment going back to the ‘start’ of UK solar in 2010. Clearly, the levels in 2020 are well below the massive peaks seen when the RO scheme was active in the UK.

Instead of looking at quarterly lumpiness in deployment, it is more useful to look at calendar year figures. This is shown below.

From a cumulative standpoint, there was 13.9GW of solar PV installed in the UK at the end of 2020. This is shown in the graph below. As expected from the figures above, overall deployment is dominated by ground-mounted systems (about two-thirds of capacity). About half of the ground-mount capacity comes from sites of 30MW and above.

Over the next few months, we will be analysing quarterly deployment levels in more detail, across a series of features on Solar Power Portal. More information on this, or to access our in-house research databases for UK solar project activity, please complete details at the landing page here.

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