Moving the UK solar market past the ‘boom and bust’ stage
Friday, May 10, 2013
The UK solar PV market is making headlines again as its 500 MW of installed capacity accounted for 10% of the global installations in the first quarter of 2013. As a result, the UK market passed the 2 GigaWatt mark of cumulative installed solar capacity. 2012 hasn't been a bad year either. Government statistics confirm 779 MW of installed PV capacity in 2012. According to Solarbuzz, 11.3% of the UK’s electricity last year was generated from renewable energy sources.
The UK market is experiencing a new ‘bloom’ period; however, based on past trends, this could just as well be considered a new ‘boom’ period.
Roughly, the development of the British market can be divided into four phases. First, there was a period of slow growth before the first Feed-in Tariff (FiT). Then there was the first boom in 2011, caused by the FiT.
The third period followed the FiT cuts and was characterized by adjustment and a search for new financing models. In 2012, boosted by the Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) scheme, the ground-mounted segment saw a rise in popularity, though most installations that year were still rooftop systems. The new ground-mounted 'boom' really came into its own in the first quarter of 2013, leading to the spectacular numbers that put the UK back on the map. But now that 31st March has come and gone and support under the ROC scheme has been reduced, the market could well come to another standstill.
It seems that the UK market is still characterized by a ‘boom and bust’ trend. Many experts and market players are calling for updated FiT policies to stimulate new market growth. The real question should be: How can the UK market really move past the ‘boom and bust’ stage?
To try to find an answer to this question, Solarplaza, in cooperation with the BPVA, is bringing together their best lineup of solar experts ever for the fourth edition of ‘The Solar Future: UK’ conference. This high-level strategy conference will feature solar visionaries such as Jeremy Leggett (Founder & Chairman, Solarcentury) Anton Milner (Managing Director, ib Vogt & Founder, Q-Cells), Jigar Shah (Founder, SunEdison & former CEO, Carbon War Room), Thierry Lepercq (Chairman, Solairedirect), Nick Boyle (CEO, Lightsource Renewable Energy) and Reza Shaybani (Chairman, BPVA). These and many other international veterans will share their visions about a future solar UK market beyond any government support – the central message being that the future of solar PV goes beyond any government support.
Some of the major themes that will be covered include topics such as the global solar PV industry developments impacting the UK market, smart grids, grid integration, smart energy management and the realistic potential of energy storage. Furthermore, the expert speakers will identify the most attractive elements per market segment and highlight the best – and sometimes most creative – ways of financing projects without being reliant on government subsidies. Examples of subsidy-free yet successful markets such as the Netherlands will be highlighted and explained.