Last year’s figures marked the first time the market saw sustained, subsidy-free growth across residential, commercial and utility scale projects, according to trade body Solar Energy UK.

The 730MW of solar generation capacity added in the UK last year means 2021 “was potentially the most significant year to date for the UK solar industry,” according to trade body Solar Energy UK.

The membership organization has reported a 36% rise on the 538MW of solar added in 2020 and cited rocketing gas prices as a motivation for commercial and industrial electricity users to switch to photovoltaics.

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The trade body highlighted the 369MW of rooftop solar capacity installed last year as the highest volume added since the 869MW of new rooftop panels recorded in 2015. Solar Energy UK pointed out, that historic figure included a significant volume of subsidy support whereas the panels installed across the UK last year were subsidy free.

The fact all three main market segments – residential; commercial and industrial; and large-scale projects – all experienced steady, unsubsidized growth indicated solar has finally come of age in the UK, according to the trade body.

The UK reached 14.6GW of solar capacity at the end of December, with more than 5GW of it rooftop panels, according to Solar Energy UK.

And the organization, which announced the statistics on Thursday, said the outlook remains positive with the Future Homes Standard supplementary building regulations to be applied to new homes from this year, with the government recently announcing its contracts-for-difference clean energy tenders will be held annually from next year, and with Downing Street having pledged to remove what Solar Energy UK described as “unfair” taxation of businesses which install solar.

The trade body’s announcement included quotes from Jamie Vaux, commercial director at its member, the Milton, England-based solar trade wholesaler Midsummer Wholesale. Vaux said: “It is indescribably insane. We are recruiting for a dozen open roles, have new starters every week, and opened new premises that will quadruple our warehouse space last week. Our design software saw 10,000-plus designs done last month. We hit absolute max capacity every day though we’re working around the clock to keep adding resources. It’s the fastest sustained growth we’ve ever seen.”