Figures highlight rush for solar PV

The rush to get solar installations completed ahead of cuts to the Feed-in Tariff support introduced in April has been highlighted by figures published last week.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change’s national energy trends and prices survey shows that solar PV accounted for 94% of the new capacity registered under FiTs during the first quarter of 2012, with arrays of sub-4kW and 4-10kW proving most popular.

In total, 1,091.2MW of renewable energy capacity had been installed and registered for the Feed-in Tariff by the end of March, an increase of 66% (432.7MW) from the last quarter of 2011.

Some 92% of the total capacity was from solar PV installations, while wind accounted for 5% of the total, and hydro, anaerobic digestion and micro-Combined Heat & Power made up the remainder.

Performance of both solar arrays and wind turbine arrays will no doubt have been boosted by the weather over recent months, which has been sunnier and windier than normal, separate DECC figures show.

Across the UK, the average daily hours of sun during the first quarter of 2012 was 3.6, around 0.9 hours more than the same period a year earlier. On average there were 4.3 sun hours a day in 2011, the same as 2010, but 1.5% below the 10-year average.

The average wind speed between January and March 2012 was 9.3 knots (4.7m/s), some 0.7 knots (0.4m/s) higher than the same period a year earlier, but 0.9 knots lower than the 10-year average. Overall, 2011 was windier than normal, with an average wind speed of 9.5 knots (4.8m/s).


  First quarter FiT uptake        
 Technology type Installed capacity Q1 2012 (MW) Capacity change on previous quarter Number of installations
 Solar PV   1000.4  +68.5   244,862
 Wind  54.9  +57.7  2,439
 Hydro  22.0  +21.1  283
 AD  13.7  +17.8  16
  Micro-CHP  0.4   +11.1  354
 Source: DECC