A blog post

Solar industry shows healthy growth rates

Posted on the 12 October, 2010 at 10:52 am Written by in Government

On the day that Greg Barker, Minister for Decentralised Energy endorses “Feed-In Tariffs” for solar power, the industry releases figures showing how the industry has growth since the introduction of the policy.  Since April, homeowners and commercial sites have benefitted from guaranteed long-term tariff rates for the green electricity they generate.

“In the first five months of the scheme, the tariffs have had more impact on solar PV than other technologies, but that’s hardly surprising,” said Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the REA.

“Solar panels are the most straightforward renewable power generation technology for the average householder.  All you need is some roof space with the right aspect.  It is usually rapid to install and planning permission is rarely required as it is permitted development.   Even so, it is important to keep this growth in perspective.  Last year, the UK installed just 2% of the PV installed in Belgium, so we have a lot of catching up to do.”

There is considerable confusion about the exact number of projects which have been built as a consequence of the Feed-In Tariffs, as the Ofgem site includes projects that were built before the regime started.  So far around 2,000 such schemes have been transferred from the Renewables Obligation on to the Feed-in Tariff list.  These include installations that were commissioned after 15th July 2009, and are eligible for the full tariff rate, and those that were commissioned before 15th July 2009 that receive 9p per kWh.  There are currently around 6,945 new PV installations, commissioned since April 1st, benefitting from Feed-In Tariffs.  78 of these were larger schemes, serving multiple occupants and the rest householders themselves.  The deadline for notifying Ofgem that you would like to transfer to the Feed-in Tariff list is given as 1st October in Ofgem guidance notes. There are at least 570 more projects currently on the RO register, to transfer to the FIT register, and possibly many more.  There has been interest in larger projects, but none have yet been commissioned.  There should be some clarity very shortly, when Ofgem publishes a newsletter which will give information about the transferral timetable.

The Renewable Energy Association has surveyed its members, and claims that the tariffs have resulted in a 62% increase in employment levels to date, with an overall increase of 125% likely by the end of the first tariff year.  The growth in jobs among companies supporting the ‘We Support Solar’ campaign is also consistent with the REA survey findings.
The Renewable Energy Association and the We Support Solar campaign are delighted with this progress, welcome Greg Barker’s support and call for long term stability in order to bring forward investment.

“This data is strong evidence that the industry is now starting to expand in the UK after many years of stop-start support which got us nowhere,” said Leonie Greene, Campaign Manager for ‘We Support Solar’.

“The UK industry needs a sustained period of confidence and stability to invest for growth, so that deployment can be increased and costs can come down in future.  It is very encouraging to see Energy Minister Greg Barker today recognising the importance of the FIT scheme for the emerging PV industry – and for communities that want the power to go green.”

For more details, please see the press release below.