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Slump in solar photovoltaics market

May 17, 2012

The Solar Trade Association (STA) says that after studying the deployment figures of solar PV, it is clear that the UK market has stalled since 1st April [2], when new energy efficiency criteria came into effect for the Feed-in Tariff (FIT). Total installed capacity for the past four weeks was 17MW [3], against a four-weekly average of 71MW over the past year.

The STA has written to DECC asking for a delay to the proposed July tariff cuts, and intends to meet with Energy Minister Greg Barker next week.

STA Chairman Alan Aldridge comments: “The STA has been seeking to counter the public confusion around solar in a bid to reignite the market (the Feed-in Tariff offers a ROI today which is as good as when it was first launched), but this effort will take some time to translate into sales. There is no doubt that solar is in better shape now than last autumn, but we need the Government to allow the market to adjust to changing circumstances before introducing the next round of tariff cuts.”

There are several reasons why the PV market – which throughout March was showing signs of recovery under the 21p tariff – may have stalled since April. The introduction of the new energy efficiency criteria is definitely a factor, but there are other, more fundamental concerns impacting consumer confidence, including the UK’s slip back into recession.

The market stagnation comes in spring – a time when the solar market should be at its busiest. While the current tariffs offer good rates of return, there is deep concern that further cuts will add to negative consumer perception.

Alan Aldridge concludes: “We are facing an unusual set of challenges right now and it is fundamentally a problem of confidence and perception. We need all champions of solar – in Government, industry and elsewhere – to help us get the message out that solar is still a great investment, particularly with energy bills on the rise again. But we also need Government to show real sensitivity to the current situation and work with us to create a stable and growing market.”

If you are a solar photovotaics installer, do your bit by explaining the benefits of this technology to your customers.

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