Moving past the fast-track review

Life after the feed-in tariff review suddenly became a bit clearer yesterday as politicians, industry players and other supporters met at the House of Commons to discuss the future of solar technology in the UK.

Organised by the Solar Trade Association (STA), the meeting focused on opportunities in the UK, rather than hanging onto Government’s failure to support larger-scale installations. Well, that was the intention anyway.

Chairman of the STA, Howard Johns was joined by Gaynor Hartnell of the REA, Dr. Murray Cameron, EPIA; Ray Noble, STA; Alan Simpson, Friends of the Earth; Chris Witte, Kingspan; Caroline Lucas MP, Norman Lamb MP and Jim Fitzgerald, Ernst & Young.

Each speaker focused on a different way to move forward, yet all came back to the same point: the UK solar industry is far from dead. In fact, several of the presentations highlighted that rapid price fall trends in module costs mean that grid parity could be reached as early as 2017.

“By 2013 to 2014, solar should start to fly as parity to electricity retail price is achieved, and by 2017 full grid parity is achieved,” said Fitzgerald.

“It doesn’t matter what Government do, we will get there,” explained Noble.

Noble continued to outline that it is not so much a case of whether we will reach grid parity, but rather how long it will take. Even with the FiT rate cuts, the UK photovoltaics industry could find a way, just by focusing on small-scale projects below 50kW. This method will still be effective; it will just take far longer.

 

Although the meeting began with positive intentions, as it came to the Q&A session, the mood quickly turned sour as the anger from recent months began to seep through the audience.

Several audience members asked why Government has failed to listen thus far, and questioned whether it will ever begin to take notice of the effect its cutthroat decisions are having on industry. The response was, as ever, geared towards change to come.

It seems that although we’re moving past the fast-track review, the effect it has had on industry still remains. What needs to happen now is for Government to provide a way forward, supporting the solar industry instead of hoping that all will be forgotten.

All is not forgiven, and is certainly not forgotten.