Posted: 14 May, 2012. Written by REA News
Fears that solar PV is no longer viable are wholly misplaced
All four major trade associations representing domestic solar PV – the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) , the Micropower Council (MPC) , the Renewable Energy Association (REA)  and the Solar Trade Association (STA)  – have joined together to set the record straight about the current status of solar power and the Feed-in Tariff. The industry is concerned that the public may be confused about solar power and the Feed-in Tariff and would like to take this opportunity to clarify the situation.
The Feed-in Tariff was launched in spring 2010, designed to offer returns of up to 8% to homeowners looking to generate their own renewable electricity – tax free, index linked, and guaranteed for 25 years. No surprise then that we’ve seen over a quarter of a million domestic solar installations go in under the scheme, totalling over 1.3GW installed capacity. Two years later, the tariff is offering the same return as it did when it was first launched – yet the market is stagnant. Why?
Whilst actual rates of return are no longer exceeding Government’s target range to the same extent as last year, a high level of consumer confusion around solar PV and the Feed-in Tariff may be playing a significant role in the drop off in the number of installations. The last six months have seen a stream of headlines about “drastic cuts,” an “illegal consultation,” “legal wrangling,” “huge job losses” and “strict energy efficiency requirements”. However, while the industry undoubtedly went through a difficult time, these headlines obscure a more important truth.
Thanks to drastically falling costs, solar PV remains one of the best investments around, which shields customers from rising energy bills and generates an income to boot, while helping fight climate change and strengthen energy security.
There is also concern that the slip back into 'double-dip' recession is suppressing demand from worried consumers.
The facts about solar power and the Feed-in Tariff
Reza Shaybani, Chairman of the British Photovoltaic Association, comments:
“Around a quarter of the UK’s aging power generation capacity is due to close over the coming decade. We must cut our dependency to fossil fuel which we have no control over its security of supply or price. Solar PV can offer the clean, affordable and secure energy that we need for the future of the United Kingdom. We see investing in clean and green energy as a national duty.”
Dave Sowden, Chief Executive of the Micropower Council, comments:
“Solar PV still offers attractive returns for consumers, in excess of many alternative investment products. Improving consumer understanding of solar PV and the Feed-in Tariff scheme is likely to be key to restoring healthy uptake levels. We are pleased that the policy framework is now on a more stable footing and are optimistic that this will signal a new dawn of consumer confidence in the microgeneration sector.”
Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, comments:
“With gas and electricity prices on the rise yet again, returns for today's investors in solar power are likely to be better than expected. By the end of this decade, solar energy costs are expected to fall to the point where it costs the same to generate your own power as it does to buy it from the grid. A technology with this potential is bound to transform our energy future.”
Paul Barwell, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association, comments:
“There is no financial explanation for the low installation levels we’re currently seeing. The main reason seems to be a lack of clear information for the public – an informational deficit which industry is today seeking to redress.”
For further information or to request an interview, please contact:
REA/STA Press Office: +44 (0)2079 810 856
BPVA Press Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
MPC Press Office: 01564 732790, or:
Name: Gaynor Hartnell
Title: Chief Executive, REA
Tel: 07870 629 575
Name: Paul Barwell
Title: Chief Executive, STA
Tel: 07785 111 359
Name: Dave Sowden
Title: Chief Executive, MPC
Tel: 07836 231848
Or 07920 824 144
Name: Reza Shaybani
Title: Chairman, BPVA
Tel: 07802 216226
Notes to Editors
1. The British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) is the national trade association of the UK solar photovoltaic industry. We are a fully independent not-for-profit organisation. Our mission is “To ensure that solar photovoltaic energy is established as the leading renewable energy source in the UK”. We promote solar PV at national and international levels and assist our members in their business development in the UK. As the voice of the industry, the BPVA is working to make solar PV a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. For more information, see: www.bpva.org.uk
2. The Micropower Council (MPC) is a cross-industry body whose membership comprises of electricity and gas companies, manufacturers, installers, trade associations, professional bodies, non-governmental organisations and charities in the microgeneration sector. We provide the microgeneration industry’s main focal point for Government, regulators, Parliament, opinion formers and the general public on regulation and public policy issues affecting the on-site production by consumers of their own sustainable, low carbon heat and power. For more information, see: www.micropower.co.uk
3. The Renewable Energy Association (REA) led the successful campaign for the introduction of Feed-In Tariffs in the UK with Friends of the Earth. We represent renewable energy producers and promote the use of all forms of renewable energy in the UK across power, heat, transport and renewable gas. It is the largest renewables trade association in the UK, representing a wide range of companies, from major multinationals to sole traders. For more information, see: www.r-e-a.net
4. The Solar Trade Association (STA) represents companies working in solar thermal and solar power in the UK. Since 2011 the STA has been affiliated to the Renewable Energy Association. Established in 1978 as a not-for-profit trade association we represent a diverse membership across the solar power and solar heating industry. The STA works in conjunction with its members to achieve the right regulatory framework and incentives for solar to deliver an increasing contribution to the UK’s electricity and heating needs. We undertake policy development and provide expert advice and analysis to government departments, agencies, regulators, NGOs and other stakeholders. For more information, see: www.solar-trade.org.uk
Government proposes reforms to the “embedded benefits” system which supports decentralised energy generation, Payments and avoided charges to decentralised generators, such as small-scale wind, solar, and biomass units, are proposed to be cut from around £45/kW to...
REA comment on House of Lords Economic Affairs report: The Price of Power: Reforming the Electricity Market Lords release report criticising repeated Government intervention in the energy market as having created leading to an "opaque,complicated, and un-competitive market...