Rexel has revealed that despite the much publicised cuts to the Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs), UK solar PV installations are set to jump from one gigawatt (GW) up to eight in the next five years.

Rexel has produced a heat map based on data from IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc, comparing installations to date with forecasts for 2016.

“The UK is already at 1.4GW and with the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC), the commercial equivalent of the FiT, likely to drop by as much as 30% on 1st April, we expect to see a rush of large scale installations in Q1 2013,” commented Brian Smithers, director, Rexel UK. “As energy prices continue to rise, grid parity – the peak where the cost of generating renewables is equal to or less than buying electricity from the grid – is getting closer and closer. If grid parity is reached before 2016, the UK could significantly exceed the forecast.”

Although Germany and Italy will still lead the pack by 2016, with 55GW and 25GW of installed capacity respectively, installations across the rest of Europe are also on the rise to varying degrees. The rapid drop in the cost of panels has played a large part in this.

Sam Wilkinson, research manager, IMS Research, added, “The particularly adverse economic conditions in Spain and Greece are reflected in the map, with both countries only adding 3GW of installed capacity by 2016. Things are brighter elsewhere though, and we expect both France and the UK to reach 8GW in the next five years, while Eastern Europe should increase from just 3GW currently to over 12GW.

“Countries like Germany have moved on from installing cheap products for a quick financial gain to taking a longer term view,” concluded Smithers. “If the rest of Europe is to deliver on the forecasts, we need to learn from this experience and work to educate both installers and end users that a better quality product delivers a better yield. PV is gaining popularity as energy prices rice and the cost of panels falls, but only by ensuring installers have the right level of expertise and are fitting the right products, will the industry secure a level of generation that is still a good investment for businesses and consumers alike.”