Domestic solar market continues slow recovery

The solar market in the UK is continuing to build steadily following the dramatic changes to the structure of the feed-in tariff policy, official figures show.

According to the latest solar installation figures published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the week ending 20 January saw 1,528 installs of <50kWp with a total capacity of 5.6MW.

The smallest tariff band of <4kWp continues to dominate the FiT scheme, accounting for 96% of the week’s installs. Installs in both the 4-10kW and 10-50kW tariff band have continued to disappoint industry; the latest figures show just 29 and 32 installs respectively.   

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Howard Johns, Managing Director of Southern Solar said: “I’m pleased to see that installation levels are not dropping dramatically at this point. It’s nice to see the figures growing a little bit but we have some way to go until it feels like the industry is buoyant again.

This week’s figures are a slight improvement on the previous week’s results, which saw the UK solar industry complete 1,507 installs – adding just under 5MW of solar capacity to the grid.

Johns said he hoped the incremental growth in install levels continues to gather pace: “Hopefully this is the year that solar in the UK gets back on track. It’s still not an easy place to be working – there isn’t as much work as we need. However, considering this is the darkest time of year and the figures seem to holding steady, if not bubbling up a little bit, it is a good sign and I hope it continues.”

Johns continued: “In our ten years of business we’ve always found the PV market to be seasonal. There are peaks and troughs when people begin to think about solar. Generally, you’ll have a surge of enquiries in the Spring.”

Commenting on the lacklustre performance of the 4-10kW and 10-50kW bands, Johns said: “It is a low level considering in many ways it’s the most suitable area in terms of site selection and return on investment. Potential customers are obviously not understanding the opportunity available for commercial roofs to use solar; there is work to be done by the industry to get the message out there.”

Commenting on the state of the feed-in tariff policy and the market in general, Johns added: “It’s the clearest framework we’ve every had now with competitive ROIs available. It is just a case of warming the market up again.

He concluded: “There is everything to play for this year. Hopefully the market can keep developing from here and turn into a reasonable year for the solar industry.”