April 1 brought with it another round of feed-in tariff cuts for the solar industry as well as an inevitable stall in installation levels. The introduction of the 16p tariff alongside the reduced 20-year lifetime has caused an 80 percent drop in solar panel installations.   

Tom Pakenham, Founder of London-based renewable firm, Green Tomato Energy, believes that continued negative media coverage of feed-in tariff cuts has caused unfounded fears amongst home owners, resulting in potential customers shying away from installing solar panels.

Pakenham maintains that solar PV still provides an excellent return on investment, despite the lower FiT rates. However, installation figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that, in the run up to August 1, installations peaked at 9,417 before plummeted to just 490 installations for the week ending August 19.

Pakenham commented: “While the figures for the week ending July 29 can be seen as a peak, caused by a rush to take advantage of the higher feed-in tariff rate, the average number of installations over the ten weeks prior to that was 3,481, so the drop is something in the region of 80 percent of that average.

“I think people are seeing the news about tariff cuts and not understanding that excellent returns are still achievable on the new rate and, with electricity prices increasing, as we have seen with SSE putting their charges up by 9 percent this week, these returns will only improve for consumers.

“Installation of a solar power system gives control over, and protection against, rising electricity costs. It is vital that the public understand this, if the UK is to stand the best chance of reducing its dependency on fossil fuels.”

Pakenham continued: “The biggest opportunity most people have to make their own contribution to the UK’s 80 percent emissions reduction target is through energy efficiency improvements to their homes. If the reality of the returns available from solar panels is better understood, then we can do a lot of good for the environment and in reducing the cost to home owners of energy prices.”