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Solar installations plummet by more than half

Photovoltaic installations since the last round of cuts to Feed-in Tariffs have declined by more than 50 per cent, CN analysis shows.

The latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that since the last round of cuts in April, just 37,000 solar installations have taken place – an average of around 12,000 per month.

This is compared to an average of around 27,000 per month in the half-year before the rate was slashed, with 166,000 being installed over that period. Some of the reduction can be accounted for by a surge in installations in the run-up to the April cut to the tariff.

The tariffs are set to be reduced further on the first of August, in line with the reduction in production costs.

Smaller installations, of 4kW or less, have dropped from an average of 26,000 installations per month before the cut, to around 12,000 a month afterwards. Before the figures were released, energy minister Greg Barker claimed that weekly installations were up 50 per cent on the same time last year.

Home Sun CEO Daniel Green said the DECC interpretation was more of “bonkers Barker’s figures”, and that the government was “talking about something which all of the facts and figures do not correlate”.

Mr. Green added that policy uncertainty and the focus on gas power were scaring off investors: “They’re not sure what the reliability of their investment is because they’re not sure of the government. The credibility of the British renewable business is continually eroded.”

“They’ve completely bust the industry… We’ve set ourselves back four or five years, and we’ve removed the likelihood of us being a leader in renewable.”

He added that solar firms could flourish again – but not before their costs sank below the point where subsidy was needed. Home Sun won a court case in January against the government over planned cuts to the subsidy.

According to DECC, 278,074 installations have so far been registered with the Central Feed-in Tariff Register, yielding a capacity of 936,848kW.

The vast majority of this capacity comes from small installations of 4kW or less, which generate 781,589kW of the total.

DECC has been criticised for creating confusion around the tariff schemes, and was yesterday branded “in turmoil” after the department’s top civil servant quit.

The picture was rosier for wind installations, with the number of completed installations rising from 7,773 in June last year to 20,351 in June 2012. Last week the government announced that subsidies for wind installations would be reduced in December this year.

A DECC spokesman told CN: “On weekly installations, numbers for 2012 so far are roughly in line with 2011 average – around 3,900 per week. Average monthly installations from Jan-May 2012 are 40 per cent above the annual 2011 average and 53 per cent above the average for Jan-May 2011”;

“Looking at average figures over the last 12 months shows an incomplete picture, as the figures have been distorted by three huge surges and troughs, reflecting the dates of tariff cuts. Accurate trends will probably only be discernible when the planned gradual tariff degression mechanism (due to start on 1 August) has been working for a while.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • IF the figures are accurate, then at 12,000 installations per month divided by the 4,500 MCS registered installers that equates to less than 3 installations per month per company. Aren't statistics wonderful.

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