Solar Energy UK opens

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The Solar Energy UK kicked off in Birmingham, England, on Tuesday with a program that examines the latest product developments, financing opportunities and policy changes in the country’s solar sector.

Organizers predict this year’s event will be bigger than ever, with an expected 4,000 visitors — nearly four times that of any other solar event in the U.K.

Attending Solar Energy UK this year will be Amber Rudd, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who is offering a rundown on the key U.K. government policies on solar and PV’s growing role in the country’s energy mix. She will also discuss ways to maintain strong growth and jobs-creation in the sector; how policy will enable the industry to move away from subsidies; updates on the government’s solar strategy and how to use solar locally as a driver for energy independence and economic growth.

In addition to Rudd, some 80 speakers will take part in the conference, taking part in discussions covering finance, standards for new installations, co-production of food and energy, community ownership models, bonds, yieldcos, securitization, storage, renewable heat, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, accessing the rooftop market, contracts for difference (CfDs), solar on schools and local authority projects.

Now in its fifth year, Solar Energy UK comes at the close of an unprecedented year for the U.K. industry. Installed capacity has grown dramatically, with a record-deployment figure forecast to reach 2.4 GW by the end of 2014.

Solar Energy UK reflects the country’s bustling PV industry: Visitor registrations are up by 50%, more than 200 exhibitors have confirmed and the Solar Power Portal Awards dinner has sold out, according to event organizers.

In addition, the event will host a dedicated U.K. R&D Poster session, showcasing the best of British research. More than 4,000 attendees are expected to attend the three-day confab at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC).