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Keeping the solar industry fighting fit
Published:  10 November, 2015

Following the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) consultation closing last month, there is understandably mounting concern that this will put the brakes on all the progress that has been made in solar adoption over recent years. Steve Everard at Rexel UK explains why the solar industry is still fighting-fit, with more success to come.

While financial incentives were initially introduced to help stimulate the UK solar market, the overall plan was always for schemes, such as the FiT, to be slowly and steadily decreased overtime, with a view to dropping them completely once the sector had matured. And the reality is, that time has come.

While we, of course, understand that this may be concerning for the installer, especially those that have invested heavily in industry accreditation and in honing their expertise to solar – we’d like to reassure them that, in the long term, there is nothing to worry about.

With solar prices decreasing rapidly and consumer gravitation on the up, the solar market is in a stable position on its own. In fact, the consensus from industry advocates is that solar PV could be the first renewable technology to achieve ‘grid parity’ whereby it will produce electricity for the same cost to ratepayers as that on the general grid. As such, this would negate the need for Government stimuli, placing solar PV as a viable alternative all on its own.

For an encouraging picture, we only need to look at the Netherlands. Despite the Government removing its solar incentive programme the solar market has continued to thrive and is, in fact, one of the most prevalent in Europe.

Crucially, what this means is, as an industry we must look beyond FiT and start working together towards a sustainable energy infrastructure for the UK.

We must remember that, with or without subsidy, the business case for commercial and domestic users is conclusive. Generally, commercial rooftops can use 100% of the energy generated and in some cases save businesses around 30% on their energy bills which, particularly when it comes to large scale establishments such as factories and warehouses operating masses of electrical equipment, can translate into many thousands of pounds in energy cost savings each year.

For the domestic sector, the financial benefit of installing a solar PV system on their roof is just as compelling. Homeowners can dramatically cut, if not cover their entire energy bill costs; the Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical 4kWp system can generate around 3,800 kilowatt hours of electricity a year which is roughly equivalent to a typical household’s electricity needs.

As we see it, this really is just the beginning for the renewables sector. Solar PV, particularly with the aid of new innovation and industry support provides the perfect solution to the UK’s energy dilemma; providing long-term, affordable and future proof energy for all.