“After 7th July 2014, we will know the outcome of the consultation process to revise the support for large-scale PV plants in the UK that the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) opened in May. If the result of the process is a sharp end to the ROC scheme for large-scale solar projects on 1 April 2015, we expect a huge rush to beat the deadline and a surge in ground-mount PV installations in the UK in the next nine months. Considering that there are more than 4.8 GW of planned projects, as much as 3 GW could be installed through Q1 2015. The UK has become the epicentre of Europe’s ground-mount PV activity”, says IHS senior analyst Josefin Berg.
According to the IHS PV Project Database – detailing >29,000 PV projects worldwide – UK projects make up 69% of the 7 GW of projects that are located in Europe and planned for installation in 2014 and 2015. Currently, more than 130 MW of utility-scale capacity is under construction in the UK, in nine projects. Another 71 projects larger than 5 MW, having a combined capacity of 681 MW, are ready-to-build. The remaining 250 utility-scale projects planned for the UK will have to race to secure all permits and sign PPAs to start construction on time to meet the potential 1 April 2015 cut-off date. Developers are now struggling with a lack of access to grid interconnections and it is likely the projects will move away from the South-West to other UK locations that can still provide viable returns.
As for the rest of Europe, France has the largest active PV pipeline, consisting of 974 MW, most of which are projects that were awarded a tariff through public tenders. Currently, IHS tracks 142 MW of projects under construction, with more slated to break ground this summer. Of the 515 MW that were awarded in the first tender for projects larger than 250 kW in 2012, less than 25% have been connected to the grid.
The four other countries with active PV project pipelines are Italy, Russia, Germany and Romania. In Italy, the majority of projects slated for 2014 were pre-registered under the Conto Energia scheme in 2013. Russia on its end awarded 399 MW of PV projects in tenders in 2013, with the first projects to come online in 2015. Despite low returns on German projects under the FIT, 202 MW of ground-mount projects have been announced for construction before 1 August 2014. Finally, in Romania, 215 MW of projects are planned for construction, despite incentive cuts and an uncertain policy landscape.
In addition to the 7 GW of relatively active pipeline, Europe boasts 7.5 GW of projects that are unlikely to materialize under current market conditions. Of 3.2 GW of announced mega-projects in Spain, at least 1.5 GW have been cancelled, and the rest remain at very early stage. In Romania about 4 GW of projects that filed for connection agreements have stalled under the current incentive scheme. Additionally to this stalled pipeline, last year 9 GW of projects applied for PV licenses in Turkey, of which 600 MW will be awarded through tenders.