The U.K.'s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed the government's Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) scheme will close to ground-mount solar PV systems sized at 5 MW or larger at the end of March 2015. As a result, IHS forecasts a boom in installations in the fourth quarter of this year (Q4'14) and peaking in the first quarter of next year (Q1'15).
IHS forecasts solar PV installations in the U.K. to reach 2.8 GW this year – revised down from its earlier prediction of 3.2 GW – as projects are pushed to the end of the year and early 2015.
IHS predicts that before the ROC scheme ends, in Q4'14 and Q1'15 combined, utility-scale installations will reach nearly 1.8 GW. For 2015, IHS has trimmed its forecast to 3.2 GW. The reason being that many ground-mount projects have failed to secure planning permissions.
Lauren Cook, solar analyst for IHS Technology, says that due to time constraints, these projects will not be able to reapply in time to receive ROC certification. Some will rescale to sub-5 MW projects in order to remain eligible for ROCs.
Beyond the ROC scheme, utility-scale PV will be confined to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme that started receiving applications on Oct. 14. However, Cook says, the competition with other technologies for a set CfD budget will limit the amount of utility-scale solar PV that can be built after Apr. 1, 2015.
The latest strategy from the government shows increased support for commercial rooftops, with concrete measures to be presented next year. However, the details remain unclear, and the elections in 2015 could further delay any new measures.
Due to the surge in applications for ground-mount PV systems, local authorities are refusing permit applications, Cook reports. Based on DECC data and the IHS PV project database, IHS estimates that more than 20% of the 6.2 GW solar projects in the pipeline will not be able to proceed.
Beyond March 2015, IHS expects many developers to shift focus to smaller ground-mount projects that still can obtain the ROCs and to commercial rooftops.