U.K. government could artificially restrain its PV market

In a new study of the country’s PV market, ‘The UK Photovoltaic Market 2010 – Tapping the Fullest Potential’, the institute states that rule, whereby a feed-in tariff (FIT) is only paid when Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS) approved products are installed by MCS accredited installers for systems up to 50 KW, can be seen as a "major bureaucratic hurdle". In a statement, the institute explains: "On the one hand, installers have to cover the costs incurred during the process themselves. On the other hand, a uniform standardized process has yet to be put in place."

It continued: "This means that the accreditation of one installer can take a longer period of time and be more expensive than that of another installer. This could eventually scare off a number of small installers."

The result, says the institute, would be be an insufficient service of demand in the segment, as well as a regulation-induced limitation of the market. Yet, it says this hurdle could be seen by manufacturers of solar components as an opportunity to establish distribution channels at a grass roots level. "They could target accredited installers, as well as those who have shied way from the process to date. Financial assistance could be offered for the certification process as a way of binding the installer to the company," suggests the institute.

It adds: "The MCS regulation applies to systems up to 50 KW and should be seen in a positive light. In fact, it should enhance the transparency of the quality of products and installations for customers."

With the launch of the ‘Green Energy Cashback’ on 1 April, the U.K. government has paved the way for the development of its renewable energies market. PV technologies are set to receive lucrative funding, whereby homeowners interested in small systems are entitled to the highest remuneration rates.

A central part of EuPD’s study was a survey carried out among installers. It reflected the "vital" role played by small systems or rather the residential sector in the solar industry. Almost 79 percent of those interviewed said that residential customers were their most important customers. Little is expected to change this year, when they are likely to make up a share of 78 percent. Customers from the public sector constitute the second most important group. Their share increased from 14 percent last year to 16.6 percent this year. Commercial customers and operators of solar parks play a very minor role, which can be seen as a direct result of funding being limited to systems up to a capacity of five megawatts.