Restarting the Market roadshow reflects buoyant industry mood

Yesterday marked the beginning of the ‘Restarting the Market’ series of Solar Power UK roadshows. In front of a sell out crowd in Sandown Racecourse, Energy Minister Energy Greg Barker took to the stage to once again deliver a keynote solar speech.

Key to the Minister’s speech was the insistence that the UK solar industry has now moved past the policy problems that dogged it over the last 18 months. He said: “The UK solar industry can now benefit from the mechanisms, ROC and FiT, which have been put in place to give industry the transparency, confidence and longevity they need to build deployment.”

He added: “Last month we reached a huge milestone. Solar is now, for the first time, a priority industry in the Government’s Renewables Roadmap. It is recognised as having a future as one of the key renewable technologies in the UK’s energy mix.”

Central to the industry’s new ambition is the need to improve standards. The introduction of the updated third edition of the MCS Guide to the Installation of Photovoltaic Systems is designed to tighten up requirements for solar installations. Launching the guide, Barker said: “This should become the “go-to” guide for PV system installers. Its widespread use will improve the reliability of installations, increase customer confidence in PV and help us all benefit from quality focused engineering solutions. I pay tribute to those who have worked on this guide over the last few months.”

The minister’s address was followed by a series of speeches designed to showcase the potential of the solar market in the UK. One continuous theme ran through all of the presentations: the opportunity available in this market is still great.

An interesting point made by various speakers is that consumers are increasingly becoming concerned about rising energy bills. It appears that the key to unlocking the domestic market is to promote solar as not just an energy generating technology but also an energy saving technology; Robert Goss, MD of Conergy, introduced the room to a new term: Autarky.

Never heard of it? Don’t worry – you soon will.



1. Economic independence or self-sufficiency

Without giving too much away for those travelling out to the other roadshow destinations (tickets available here), the global solar market is undergoing an interesting shift of focus. The installation of solar provides all property owners with the opportunity of increased independence (or autarky) from the energy companies. With energy prices only going one way in the future, the industry is getting to a point where – even without subsidy – energy bills will be significantly reduced by solar.

Of course there are still challenges facing the industry but solar now has everything it needs to go out and break down the majority of the previous barriers to deployment.

If the industry can work together, target the appropriate markets and deliver a unified message – the year ahead looks remarkably bright.