With the Comprehensive Feed-in Tariff Review expected any day now, I was interested to see the UK’s Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change discussing the future of solar power on Twitter last weekend. Preparing for his keynote speech at the upcoming Solar Power UK Conference, Greg Barker was apparently trying to figure out how to balance the UK’s big solar ambition with the finite budget he has to work with.

Current UK solar installation figures are now reaching above and beyond expectations, with more than 360MW installed to date. The generous feed-in tariff rates, especially at the residential level, have driven this huge uptake, with more than 80,000 individual installations completed in less than two years.

These figures represent the UK’s clear passion for renewable energy. In fact, Rexel’s recent Global Energy Efficiency research found that over a quarter of UK consumers would be motivated to save energy if they had access to financial subsidies in the form of interest-free eco-loans to support their switch to more energy efficient products. On a similar note, a YouGov survey of 2,022 adults on behalf of Gemserv found that 61 percent of UK homeowners would consider installing technology such as solar PV panels to generate their own energy.

Unfortunately, however, this ambition is not matched with the necessary finance. There is just £860 million set aside for the period 2010–2015, £360 million of which must be spent during the period 2014–15, representing a 10 percent reduction on the previous estimate of £400 million. With so much solar capacity already installed, fears are beginning to mount that most of this budget has already been spent.

Despite this clear problem, Barker seemed to show support for the solar industry. Held in a Twitter discussion with Solarcentury’s Founder and Chairman Jeremy Leggett on Sunday, he asked for help in deciding just what can be done to bridge the gap between solar aspirations and the lack of available finance.

In a bid to help Barker understand just how much the solar industry needs strong feed-in tariff rates, Leggett took him up on his offer to share his thoughts, outlining six key points on just how much the solar industry has done, and how much could be done given the right support:

1. Perspective: 1st 15 months of feed-in tariffs added just 1.5p a month to UK energy bills, easily offset with Green Deal.
2. Holistic accounting: Just £21m outlay of #FiT. How many £m from tax & offset benefits on the thousands of new jobs?
3. UK plc strategy: We must be a player in the mass markets beyond grid parity, coming soon. Our industry must be alive then!
4. Big Society: Communities like Wadebridge prepared to use FiT to procure solar for self reliance: epitome of DECC’s vision.
5. Fuel poverty: #solar is one of their [DECC’s] top tools for fighting it in the years ahead. 1,000s of roofs planned.
6. Schools: Letters from kids at the #solar schools we have done show they see a different future. Can’t put a price on that.

Leggett also outlined that more than 25,000 have already been created under the feed-in tariffs, despite the current unemployment crisis.

Leggett’s points were all well received by Barker, who commented that he would use them to make a case in Government, presumably in the lead-up to the comprehensive review.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely looking forward to the speech at Solar Power UK on Thursday – let’s hope, for once, its good news.