It was a sunny start as the doors opened on Ecobuild last week. The main focus for this year’s event was the long awaited domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), to give a much needed boost to solar thermal for UK households.
Greg Barker speaks about the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, launching spring 2014
The new domestic RHI is now imminent – parliamentary process will debate it in next week or so before launch expected in April. This will give a much needed stimulus to the renewable market and a significant take-up is expected. Off-gas households will be a key area for demand.
A key point of interest was the UK Solar Roadmap to 2020 presented by Ray Noble; PV specialist of the Solar Trade Association and Co-Chair of the Government’s Solar Strategy Group. The roadmap to expand solar power in the UK includes a move from solar fields to roof-tops, the use of untapped potential such as car park canopies and the reuse of agricultural land. He also presented some intersting statistics and figures about solar in the UK.
UK Solar Road Map to 2020
Solar PV in the UK has had a turbulent ride. The market was virtually non-existent until 2010, when the FIT was launched (with only 26MW installed). Initially it showed great success, but with no mechanism to adjust on price reduction, the well-publicised drastic cuts sent the fledgling industry reeling.
This year, we have begun to see the market grow again. Cumulative PV installed capacity has now grown to 3GW with over 510,000 installations. This figure is six times the original Government figure predicted for 2014. This growth has accelerated the UK to be a top ten player in the global PV market,and rated by Ernst & Young rate as one of top 6 worldwide destinations in which to invest in renewables. However there is still a perception that solar PV in the UK is only a possible option to meet our future energy needs. While popularity of Solar is growing in the UK, the UK PV community and Government need to encourage the acceptance that PV is here now.
Ray Noble presents 2020 Solar Road Map
This market growth prompts the question: what is next for the solar PV industry?
Over the next few years, solar will become more and more integrated into building design, building entire solar roof tops, for example. At the moment, solar farms have been built on large areas of unused land but this doesn’t make use of the masses of unused building surfaces. For example, the potential surface capabilities of car parks using canopies is huge. The general strategy of the roadmap is a move to buildings and away from fields.
So far, energy storage for microgeneration systems has remained tantalizingly out of reach due to high costs. Without an increase on return investment or a jump-start subsidy such as was seen in Germany last year, it is hard to see when battery storage for PV systems will be adopted in the mainstream. It is likely the main driver to bring battery prices down will be the motor industry alongside necessity as the grid becomes saturated.
Some surprising facts about solar
- The predicted forecast for solar PV globally is $155 billion by 2018, with the UK well placed to gain at least 10% of this market (UK Solar PV roadmap)
- Growth in solar demand continues by 20% per year and is now being deployed in virtually every corner of the globe.
- The price of solar has fallen by more than 50% in 3 years and is predicted to provide cheaper electricity than any fossil fuel by 2025 – just over a decade away.
- Investing in solar provides an average 12% return; compare this to the less than 2% return on most ISAs. One sure way to persuade your customer of the benefits of PV!