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Solar PV Experts Predict UK Will Follow in Europe's Footsteps

Solar PV experts predict the UK will follow in Europe's footsteps and experience significant market growth following the introduction of the new feed-in tariffs (FITs).

According to a report published in May 2010 by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, Germany continues to dominate the European PV market with 68% market share, followed by Italy and the Czech Republic. Belgium and France both showed steady growth throughout 2009 whilst Spain's market appeared to slow because of the recession. And trailing at the bottom of the league table is the UK with installations totalling just 22 MW in 2009.

However, in April, the UK Government introduced the new FITs to encourage households and businesses to install renewable energy systems such as solar PV. With this solid foundation, the UK solar PV market looks set for substantial growth.

Industry experts, who will be presenting at next month's UK PV Conference, have provided the following predictions:

Jeremy Leggett, Solarcentury

"The UK solar revolution is underway. Since the Government announced the financial incentives we have seen very strong interest in PV products from homeowners and commercial operators. The feed-in tariff is a market-building mechanism. It is designed to create sufficient demand for PV systems to trigger two benefits: first, falling cost and price of solar electricity, and second, growth of a proper UK-based solar PV industry. With the right supply chain in place, I believe that we can achieve grid parity – where solar power in homes will cost no more than conventional electricity – as soon as 2013."

Clive Collison, South Facing

"I believe the Carbon Reduction Commitments (CRC) will further drive the PV market. It will take some time before both the attractive feed-in tariff and the CRC will impact on the UK, but in one to two years the market will really take off. Bigger companies, housing associations and financial institutions will then discover the possible financial benefits. In this first stage of the market, the residential segment will dominate the UK PV market demand. Private households pay more for their electricity, so they can save more by installing PV.

"It took Germany, Spain and Italy three years after the start of their feed-in tariff to reach a substantial market scale. No doubt a similar market development will occur in the UK."

Giuliano Digilio, Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA)

"In three years time I don't think the UK will have drastically improved its position within the solar league tables. This is due to the current climate where people are reluctant to spend money, and also, with payback periods at eight to ten years, it's still expensive – especially for the domestic market. However, I believe solar PV has huge potential and is the most viable source of renewable energy that is available in the UK, and the feed-in tariffs will have a positive effect, helping to drive PV adoption.

"We're not going to overtake more advanced countries like Germany, Spain and Italy, but within five years, I think the UK solar PV market will be very different with more installations and greater investment."

Ray Noble, Renewable Energy Association

"The interest generated by the FITs in the UK is exceeding all expectations. The unique FIT, with the Generation Tariff, kept separate to the use or export of the electricity, has resulted in some very innovative funding arrangements including ‘Free PV'. The banks, finance institutions and pension funds are actively supporting the large number of projects, which include complete housing estates, large roofs and ground-mounted systems, all at the 5 MWp end of the scale. At last, a very exciting time for solar power in the UK."

Xavier Eelen, ZEN Renewables

"From our experience in the Belgian and Dutch solar energy markets, we believe that national governments have the key to give a great value to growth in public awareness and to economic growth of the solar market. Other European countries have given well-organised examples of a concrete policy of feed-in tariffs. The new perspectives in the UK undoubtedly will be successful if all players can attend this new challenge: spreading knowledge, supplying the necessary systems, and increasing employment in installation capacity."

The UK PV Conference host, Edwin Koot, CEO, Solarplaza, commented: "With the introductions of the FITs there is now a solid foundation for solar PV to take off in the UK and we're confident that the UK will be successful in its widespread adoption of solar PV, and present a range of compelling business opportunities. That's why on 22 June we are hosting a major PV conference in London to help entrepreneurs, investors, utilities operators and electrical contractors better understand the UK PV market and all of its business potential. Presentations will be given by UK law makers, regulators, industry experts, financiers and other major solar stakeholders."

Delegates can register to attend the conference at

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