The UK’s large-scale solar pipeline at the beginning of 2019 sat at nearly 3.5 gigawatts (GW) according to in-house research done by the team at Solar Media and headed up by solar industry expert Finlay Colville.
Unlike clean energy pipelines in other countries, the UK solar industry does not receive quite as much attention — due probably in part to the comparatively small size of the industry when compared with the country’s offshore wind and the comparative lack of attention when compared with marine technologies. In fact, the in-house research team at Solar Media remains the only market research organization to be tracking the UK solar market in detail.
The result of Solar Media’s bottom-up audit trail of fully-qualified projects reveals 197 large-scale ground-mount post-subsidy UK solar projects with a combined capacity of 3.343 GW. Of these projects, 72 are at the pre-application stage with a total capacity of 1.858 GW, leaving 125 projects worth a total of 1.485 GW beyond the pre-planning phase. Further, of these projects beyond the pre-planning phase, 17 projects totaling 86 MW are pending approval and 12 totaling 197 MW are left over from UK or Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation schemes, and which Solar Media is likely to mothball unless there is planning movement within the next six months.
Out of the 125 projects, Solar Media’s analysts have identified 55 projects totaling 573 MW that should be considered the top priority for post-subsidy activity and which are already approved or planning active. It’s important to remember, therefore, that given the makeup of the whole pipeline and Solar Media’s own analysis, Finlay Colville explains that “if anyone is citing the real pipeline, perhaps we should be using this number: 573MW.”
That being said, Finlay Colville and his team at Solar Media believe there are a pool of 41 projects totaling 629 MW that they consider to be “2019-viable” and, if anything, are close to rounding the active-pipeline to 600 MW. Regardless, the pipeline is not in the multi-gigawatt range.
Looking back at the larger, if unrealistic, pipeline, there are five projects above 50 MW totaling 683 MW, another ten projects at the 49.99 MW point totaling 499.9 MW, 20 in the 30 to 49 MW bracket totaling 746 MW, and 60 in the 10 to 30 MW bracket for a total of 1.144 GW. The remainder of projects are in the 250 kW to 10 MW range.