Solar thermal installations in July represented the lowest monthly deployment in all of 2013, according to statistics published by the Solar Trade Association (STA), the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) and the Industrial & Commercial Energy Association (ICOM).

The installation figures show that 2,577m2 of solar thermal was installed in July, a 41% drop from the same month last year.

The figures represent an ongoing trade of decline that has occurred in the solar thermal market since its peak in 2010, where 88,379m2 of solar thermal was installed. Since then, installation rates dropped by 13% in 2011 then a further 35% in 2012 and are expected to drop even further in 2013.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Jerry Hamilton, energy solutions director, Rexel UK said: “It is not really that much of a surprise to see that the solar thermal figures reported are still below that of the peak seen in 2010.

“Awareness around renewable heat, especially among consumers, is lower than that for other renewable or energy efficiency technologies and the long-term delay in the announcement of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) policy has not helped.”

The domestic RHI will be launched in Spring 2014 after being continually beset by delays. However, any household that has already installed a renewable heating system on or after 15 July 2009 will be eligible to join the scheme.

Hamilton noted that the domestic RHI’s launch was cause for optimism for the sector, stating: “It is not all doom and gloom for solar thermal and renewable heat technologies; we are seeing an increased interest among our customer base, and firmly believe that the RHI has potential to offer a massive boost to the industry. These figures are not going to skyrocket over night; it takes time to build awareness and it is up to the industry to drive this with better education.”

With the RHI set to drive a significant increase in demand for renewable heat technologies, Solar Energy UK in October has introduced a new Renewable Heat Feature Area which will provide free practical demonstrations on collectors, cylinders, pumps, controllers and solar thermal system integration.

Elsewhere, there will also be a Joint Solar Thermal Forum hosted by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) and the STA. Presentations focusing on the RHI will also be given by representatives from DECC and the ESTIF Secretariat.

Solar Energy UK 2013 will take place 8-10 October at the NEC in Birmingham. Further information is available here.

A more detailed breakdown of the installation figures can be viewed here.