Solar Energy UK (SEUK), the largest exhibition dedicated to solar energy, renewable and low-carbon industry professionals in the UK, has joined forces with Clean Energy Live to match the changing opportunities in the UK solar market.
Following significant changes to government subsidies, Solar Media – the publisher of Solar Power Portal and Solar Business Focus UK – will bring the two events together at the NEC, Birmingham on 4-6 October in order to reflect the changing landscape of the industry.
Despite cuts to the feed-in tariff (FiT) and the early closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO), spirits remain high throughout the industry, with key areas of growth expected to continue throughout the year and into 2017.
Finlay Colville, head of solar intelligence, explained: “The build-out of RO projects that met the grace period for 1.2ROCs represents a gigawatt-scale opportunity. We also expect rooftop, commercial, community and local authority projects to add a significant amount of work for the industry through 2016. In terms of deployment, it is likely that the UK will again be the biggest solar market in Europe.
“In addition to deployment, we also have a huge O&M market maturing as projects built in the RO-fed boom years come out of their EPC warranties.
“SEUK remains the best platform for businesses to exploit these opportunities and develop new relationships as the UK finds its equilibrium as a mature, sustainable solar market,” added Colville.
This is keeping big firms interested in the UK as Vera Mikosch, head of sales at SolarWorld, explained: “We're totally committed [to the UK market]. The marketing might have changed and our partners will say that it was perhaps an easy sell before, but we still see opportunities here.”
The huge activity expected in the UK will be felt throughout several sectors, not least within the public sector which is continuing to plan solar projects in spite of changing circumstances.
Solar consultant Stephen Cirell, who is currently working with over 20 local authorities on their projects, said: “The good news is that local authorities generally remain positive about solar PV. None of them have been diverted by the end of ROCs or the [reduction] of FiTs because they’re looking at it on a longer term strategy.
“I think that the public sector market is positive and will stay positive for the next four or five years.”
Community solar energy projects continue to go from strength to strength, with new bond offers being launched and completed at a fast rate. Speaking to SPP earlier this year following the successful fundraising of over £1.6 million for a 4MW solar farm, Peter Andrews of Bath and West Community Energy said: “There is significant appetite in the British public to invest in clean energy – it is very satisfying to see.”
While UK solar will continue to see work throughout the year and beyond, many solar firms have reacted to the recent changes by branching out into other areas to support their product portfolio.
Clean Energy Live has been incorporated to reflect this change, allowing the established UK solar industry to explore opportunities in a post-subsidy world, engaging with energy consumers and project developers to further grow the clean energy industry in the UK.
Additional technologies like energy storage, management systems and renewable heat solutions will be integrated into the event to show how solar firms can grow their offering and take advantage of the rapidly important clean agenda.
Tim Mann, managing director of Solar Media, said: “The UK solar industry will continue to be the largest in Europe this year and Solar Energy UK will continue to be the best place for the industry to do business.
“Co-locating with the new Clean Energy Live show means all of the complementary technologies that are enabling solar to take its place in the energy transition will be under the same roof. The solar industry must pivot from a focus on getting panels on roofs to enabling end-users to access energy as a service.
“The building blocks of that shift will be represented on the show floor and in the extensive conference programme. We’ll be looking to link the industry with those end-users in Birmingham so they can secure their supply, lower their bills and cut their carbon.”