The UK’s solar industry has been dealt a blow following fresh cuts to the subsidies afforded to it by government, but Jerry Hamilton of Rexel believes the industry should be looking forwards not backwards.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Hamilton said that the closure of the renewable obligation (RO) to sub-5MW should not come as a surprise to anyone in the industry. Hamilton points to the industry roadmap that was released alongside the UK’s inaugural Solar Strategy document which he believes signposted the government’s direction to zero subsidy clearly. The success of solar has meant that the timeline to zero subsidy has been altered to reflect falling costs.

Hamilton explains: “The UK solar industry has been enormously successful and schemes like the renewable obligation have played an integral part in shaping the sector. But the RO will be gone in March 2016, and the industry should be looking forward to its next phase.”

According to Hamilton, given government rhetoric, the sector should be looking to harness the enormous potential of the commercial rooftop market. Amber Rudd has been consistent in her message that she supports solar PV deployment, confirming to Solar Power Portal that she would like to see the UK install “as much solar as we can afford”.

Indeed, Andrea Leadsom, minister for energy and climate change recently echoed Rudd’s sentiments, stating: “As we move away from demand-led schemes…I look forward to working with the industry to enable further deployment across the UK in particular on domestic rooftops and larger roof spaces, for example on commercial and industrial buildings.”

Hamilton acknowledges that changes to the feed-in tariff pre-accreditation process and the uncertainty around proposed grandfathering of RO support are major setbacks for the commercial market – damaging investor certainty. But Hamilton is convinced that the market can overcome these setbacks using innovative approaches.

Looking ahead, Hamilton is urging the UK solar industry to be proactive in its consultation responses to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). “The solar industry should be working closely with government to identify the non-financial barriers to deployment for rooftop solar – allowing the government the opportunity to make good on its promise of supporting a solar revolution”, suggests Hamilton.

As part of Building a British Solar Future, Solar Power Portal will be exploring what realistic changes the industry can lobby for during the consultation period. In addition, Solar Power Portal will be looking at what innovative business models can be used to make UK solar work with little or no subsidies.