Written by Brian Smithers, Rexel UK, Business Development Director
There is no question that the Green Deal is welcome news for the industry. The programme will help boost energy efficiency across UK properties and is an important step in the government’s plan to meet its carbon emissions cuts.
But at the same time the Government has dropped subsidies for solar panels by as much as 50 percent from the beginning of March. The news came quicker and deeper than anyone expected, causing a ‘green rush’ with consumers and installers scrambling to lock themselves into the higher rate before the deadline.
As we, the green energy industry, emerge from the energy equivalent of the January sales, the question remains how do we prepare for a sustainable future? The solar sector has been left wondering if we might have had more reliable sales in the years ahead as we prepare for a time when fossil fuels are no longer the most cost effective consumer energy solution.
There can be no question that the high returns from solar subsidies did a fantastic job getting green energy on both the business and household agenda. They made solar installations a viable long term investment. The high rates played a critical role spurring both consumer and trade adoption for a product and industry in its infancy. Early adopters take a gamble on a technology as yet unproven and their investment needs to be recompensed as they forge the way for the mass market.
What matters now is that we weather the storm of the coming years. We need to continue to educate suppliers and consumers about the long term benefits and return on sustainable energy investments.
More important still, we must caution buyers against seeking out the lowest priced, untested technology in a bid to maximise supposed returns at the new PV FiT rate. If you consider that even the tilt and direction of your roof affects the level of energy generated annually, imagine the impact of fitting inferior quality products on energy generated over time.
It’s critical that building professionals as well as consumers invest in established PV technologies that have already proven they deliver. A bad experience from one supplier won’t necessarily be felt for several years as the kit depreciates, by which point the business may no longer be around to account for its product. At the same time the industry must do more to educate the public about the benefits of renewable energy.