DECC has revised its forecasts for solar power installations in the light of the success of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and now expects some 3.3 million households to have installed solar panels by 2020, as against its earlier expectations of a few hundred thousand properties. According to Ofgem, about 240,000 homes and 4,000 businesses generate currently their own power from photovoltaic (PV) sources, worth £275 million in tax and other revenues to HMT. The new DECC data, not widely trumpeted it must be said, is to be found in the department’s impact assessment of its cut to the FIT subsidy, which took effect from 3 March 2012.
The solar industry expects the cost of solar panels to fall as the market expands, and the various trades involved, from consultants and electricians to roofers and surveyors gain expertise in this growing industry.
A typical domestic installation provides about 14 day’s work for the various trades and professionals involved, and aside from panel manufacture, most of which are imported, this is local employment funded by a national tariff. But domestic manufacturers like Sharp in Wrexham clearly stand to gain as the industry grows.
Sharp Solar opened its new Renewable Energy Academy in Wrexham to reach out to building and home maintenance professionals across the UK. The Academy aims to train those interested in entering into the solar panel installation market, which is expected to be worth £500 million a year by 2015. The module manufacturer, which recently expanded its production lines and announced 300 new jobs at Wrexham, claims it is the PV manufacturer to integrate a training academy with its production facilities. Sharp expects that the factory will train 25 to 50 people a month, giving electricians, roofers, building contractors and heating engineers the chance to change career and move into the renewable energy sector.
Sharp recently commissioned research into UK homeowners’ views of solar PV:
- 56% of homeowners would install solar panels on their home.
- 86% would only trust an accredited installer to do the job.
- 62% were aware of the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme.
- 48% more likely to install solar as a result of the FIT incentive.
Sharp says it is experiencing an exponential rise in UK solar installations, so to meet that demand is looking for the UK’s tradespeople to sign-up for the Sharp Renewable Energy Academy, where they can learn comprehensive, high-quality solar
installation skills and gain a valuable advantage over other installers in the
growing renewable energy industry. According to Element Energy’s recent report on the impact of the review, the feed-in tariff is generating £275 million in taxes from national insurance, VAT, and income tax alone – and Friends of the Earth estimates this rises to at least £338 million if corporation tax is included. Once again, evidence that smart public investment like the FIT creates jobs and revenues.