(Back Row Left to Right. Ben Hill – Trina Solar, Steve Pester – BRE, Martin Cotterell – Sundog Energy, Tom Paul – Kingspan, Jeremy Harrison – EON, David Owen – Photovoltaics International. Front Row Left to Right. Jonathan Scurlock – NFU, Mike Shiel – Scottish Development International, Ray Noble – Renewable Energy Association, Tim German – Cornwall Council, Florian Meyer-Delpho – PVxchange, Prof. Stuart Irvine – Centre for Solar Energy Research, Ash Sharma – IMS Research.)

The week of the Intersolar trade show began with the roaring success of the ‘Doing Solar Business in the UK’ conference, organized by Photovoltaics International, the leading technical publisher in the solar industry. The conference, which had institutional support from EPIA, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, and the REA, the Renewable Energy Association, was held at the Charles Hotel in Munich, and drew in over 130 delegates from all over the world.

Ray Noble, PV specialist for the REA and advisor to government on the feed-in tariffs, acted as keynote speaker at the conference. He also introduced the formation of the new Solar Power Group, an industry body that will represent the commercial interests of companies operating in the PV industry in the UK. The new group is a full division of REA and already has been accepted as a member of EPIA.

“Creating the first conference in Munich, the day before Intersolar was an inspired choice,” said Ray Noble. “The key challenge for an accelerated UK market will be the ability of the UK to learn from the mistakes and successes from continental Europe and Germany, the market leader for PV adoption.”

Eighteen key speakers spoke in depth on varying aspects of the upcoming UK market, including the impact of the newly announced feed-in tariff, comparisons of the different market segments, and the possibility of manufacturing solar products in the UK. The conference room was seated to full capacity.

The event was sold out more than a week before the conference began. Photovoltaics International was very impressed with the turnout, which not only reflected the quality of the conference itself, but also the certain future success of the UK solar market.

“It is great to see how many people across the industry are interested in doing solar business in the UK. Since the introduction of the feed-in tariff in April, we have had high hopes for the market, yet to see this much interest and having to actually turn people away due to lack of room was overwhelming,” said David Owen, CEO of Photovoltaics International.

Consensus during the final panel discussion was that the UK market for solar installations, if managed correctly, could reach 250MW in 2011. The launch of the new Solar Power Group was seen as a positive step to ensure that the market is well looked after.

A further conference addressing the UK market has been scheduled for Oct. 18-19 in London.