Solar Industry 'on road to recovery'
The solar industry has welcomed new figures revealing the market is gradually recovering from deep cuts to the popular feed in tariff incentive scheme, which effectively halted growth across the sector last month.
Deployment of solar PV has increased steadily at around 620 kilowatts per week since the start of April, according to a report published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) late last week.
Demand collapsed after the government changed the rules governing the scheme and halved the level of incentives available from April 1. The number of installations dropped to 885 in the first week of April, creating around 2.5MW of new capacity – a huge reduction on the tens of thousands of installations undertaken during February and March.
However, provisional figures show that 1,788 solar installations were completed in the week ending 3 June, creating around 6.4MW of new capacity. The figure is less than the 2,186 installations in the last week of May, however the June 3 figure is likely to be revised upwards slightly as new information is collected.
Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said he was confident the industry was now “on the road to recovery”, following the recent confirmation by Climate Change Minister Greg Barker that the next wave of cuts to the solar feed-in tariff will come into effect in August, cutting payments for small scale installations from 21p/kWh to 16p/kWh.
Barker also announced a new mechanism for reducing feed-in tariff that gives the government an option to cut the tariff every three months from November, based on the level of deployment in the preceding months.
“The steady climb in deployment – which will see a minor blip next week owing to the Jubilee weekend – is a sign of a stable and sustainable future for the UK PV sector,” said Barwell. “Consumers are getting the message that returns are as good as ever and the feed-in tariff is finally stable.”
However, many industry insiders remain concerned that demand is still 90 per cent lower than it was this time last year as a result of the deep cuts to feed-in tariffs.
Building company Carillion confirmed last month that it would cut 1,400 jobs following a drop in demand for solar as a result of the deep cuts to feed-in tariffs. Coventry-based Norton Energy Solutions also entered administration at the end of May, putting around 100 jobs at risk.
Author: Jessica Shankleman