The pipeline of renewable energy and storage projects either in development or under construction across Great Britain now stands at 86.4GW, analysis by Cornwall Insight has revealed.

The consultancy said there has been a significant increase in the number of early-stage projects due to the offshore wind leasing rounds being undertaken by the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland.

Cornwall Insight said these projects classified as in “scoping”, which are yet to submit a planning application but have confirmed a grid connection option through National Grid’s Transmission Entry Capacity register, represent 40.6GW of capacity.

Planning applications have been submitted for a further 13.5GW of capacity, which is now awaiting approval, whilst 24.5GW is awaiting construction. The amount currently under construction is 7.8GW.

Offshore wind comprises more than half of the total development pipeline at 50.9GW. Onshore wind and batteries each account for 10.4GW and solar for 5.7GW.

Source: Cornwall Insight, Renewables Pipeline Tracker

Cornwall Insight analyst Lucy Dalton said: “We are currently seeing increased activity in sites classified as scoping, with recent developments in the offshore leasing rounds being undertaken by the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland.

She continued: “While the auction parameters are yet to be announced, the fourth Allocation Round (AR4) of the CfD [Contracts for Difference] scheme is firmly on the horizon in 2021. With AR4 set to offer the first pot 1 auction since 2015, it is also unsurprising to see an increase in the number of onshore wind and solar PV sites entering the development pipeline with the aim of accessing the CfD.”

Meanwhile, Solar Energy UK has released new figures showing 175MW of solar capacity was installed across the UK during the first three months of 2021, bringing the cumulative total to date to 14GW – a 14 per cent year-on-year increase. It said ground mounted solar panels accounted for 70 per cent of the new capacity.

According to the numbers, installations dropped off significantly in the first and second quarters of 2020 as the UK went into its first coronavirus lockdown but bounced in the third after restrictions were eased. It said 660MW of capacity was installed over the last 12 months.

The trade association said the closure of the Feed-in Tariff to solar in 2019 has not stopped its growth, with subsidy-free capacity now exceeding 1GW. It said the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and the Local Authority Delivery element of the Green Homes Grant programme could help push new installations to more than 1GW over 2021.

Source: Solar Media

Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett commented: “The UK solar industry is going from strength to strength. Great Britain had its cleanest ever grid electricity over the Easter Weekend, with solar providing 21 per cent of generation at one point.

“The growing pipeline of subsidy-free projects reflects the confidence investors have in solar technology, and the UK can look forward to solar delivering an increasing amount of clean, affordable power.”

The analysis was undertaken by Solar Media, whose head of research, Finlay Colville, said: “The UK solar industry is now operating efficiently and profitably in a zero-subsidy environment, confirmed by the strong deployment figures recorded during the first quarter of 2021.”

“Annual growth is now being seen across all three of the main market segments of residential, commercial rooftop and ground-mount installations.”

“Furthermore, the pipeline within each segment continues to grow robustly, especially for large-scale solar farms. 2021 could still be the most significant year for solar in the UK, if the industry succeeds in deploying above 1 gigawatt of new PV installations, fully absent of any government incentive schemes.”