In a bid to fight for the survival of the UK solar industry all four major trade associations have today come together for the first time. The British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA), the Micropower Council (MPC), the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Solar Trade Association (STA) have this morning revealed their affiliation in a bid to form a united front against the feed-in tariff fiasco.

UK solar installation figures have declined dramatically in recent weeks, despite the fact that returns are still on a par with those achievable last year. The most likely reason for this decrease in uptake, according to the associations, is public confusion around the current feed-in tariff situation.

Over the last six months the mainstream press has printed negative headlines focussing on drastic cuts, an illegal consultation, legal wrangling, huge job losses and strict energy efficiency requirements – all of which have over-exaggerated the situation, say the associations. This has caused a lot of consumer uncertainty, as the message out there is that the opportunity for solar has been and gone.

The four associations have today come together to push the message that thanks to drastically falling component prices, solar PV remains one of the best investments around. This technology not only shields customers from rising energy bills and generates an income to boot; it also helps to reduce carbon emissions and strengthens energy security.

Dave Sowden, Chief Executive of the Micropower Council, explained: “Solar PV still offers attractive returns for consumers, in excess of many alternative investment products. Improving consumer understanding of solar PV and the feed-in tariff scheme is likely to be key to restoring healthy uptake levels. We are pleased that the policy framework is now on a more stable footing and are optimistic that this will signal a new dawn of consumer confidence in the microgeneration sector.”

Reza Shaybani, Chairman of the British Photovoltaic Association, comments: “Around a quarter of the UK’s aging power generation capacity is due to close over the coming decade. We must cut our dependency to fossil fuel which we have no control over its security of supply or price. Solar PV can offer the clean, affordable and secure energy that we need for the future of the United Kingdom. We see investing in clean and green energy as a national duty.”

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, comments: “With gas and electricity prices on the rise yet again, returns for today's investors in solar power are likely to be better than expected. By the end of this decade, solar energy costs are expected to fall to the point where it costs the same to generate your own power as it does to buy it from the grid. A technology with this potential is bound to transform our energy future.”

Paul Barwell, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association, comments: “There is no financial explanation for the low installation levels we’re currently seeing. The main reason seems to be a lack of clear information for the public – an informational deficit which industry is today seeking to redress.”