‘Restarting the Market’ roadshows show smooth road ahead for solar in the UK

After setting off five weeks ago, the Solar Power UK series of roadshows drew to a close this week up in Scotland, the final of the seven roadshow locations. The ‘Restarting the Market’ series attracted over 500 attendees reflecting the optimistic outlook of the UK solar industry for the future.

After the succession of destabilising feed-in tariff changes, the much-maligned Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) set about putting in place a series of policy reforms that would help bring stability to solar – a technology that is now deemed “key” to meeting the UK’s renewable ambitions.

Flash back to August last year when the UK solar industry was trying to come to terms with the new 16p feed-in tariff rate – a rate 63% lower than just eight months earlier – and the difference in attitude is stark.

The series of roadshows was launched to help the industry come together and celebrate the fact that solar is still a fantastic product to sell: returns are similar to 2011 levels yet the cost has halved. Not content with hosting Solar Power UK every October, the roadshows act as a way of getting across to all interested solar installers in the UK.

Kicking off the series of roadshows, Energy Minister Greg Barker said: “As the roadshows journey across the UK, so can the industry grow on its foundations to reach out to new markets and customers, and succeed across the country.  

“We will get the message out there that solar PV is not only exciting, but it is affordable, bankable and ready to go – wherever you are. I am delighted that DECC is contributing to each one of these roadshows. But more importantly, I am committed that we will travel with you on a more vital journey: a journey to place solar PV right at the heart of the UK’s energy mix and to ensure we all reap the benefits which that will bring.”

Each of the half-day seminars served as an accessible opportunity for installers to understand the challenges and opportunities that face the market in the future. The informal nature of the roadshows gave installers the platform to quiz DECC and industry experts to get answers to the important questions.

The events covered some of the most pressing issues facing the solar industry, including: the launch of the new MCS guide; addressing consumer confusion; how solar interacts with the Green Deal; the route to energy independence; and the launch of the National Solar Centre.

The potential of the market has begun to trickle down and it appears that the industry’s efforts are starting to bear fruit. The embedded video below serves as a good barometer for the general mood within the industry:

The domestic market has even begun to pick up – jumping from 5MW a week last month to a steady 7MW a week this month. Perhaps the messages being delivered at the roadshows are beginning to gain traction.

Of course it wouldn’t be the solar industry if the market didn’t face some serious challenges but the domestic market has everything it needs to perform strongly. If the industry can work together, target the appropriate markets and deliver a unified message – the year ahead looks remarkably bright.

Personally, I’d like to thank the sponsors, Conergy & Trina, all the speakers, partners, exhibitors and delegates for joining us at the roadshows. I’m already looking forward to next year’s roadshows.