STA launches its “Stunning Solar” campaign just as distributed solar in the UK needs a helping hand


Solar PV installations are beneficial to homes for financial and environmental reasons, but the Solar Trade Association (STA) is now hoping to demonstrate that they can also be a visual asset as well. However, like a wilting flower, domestic PV in the U.K. has suffered recently in the face of large subsidy cuts, so STA’s campaign might be the catalyst needed to bring the market back to life.

The organization’s Stunning Solar campaign brings together a selection of some of the most attractive and environment-fitting solar installations in the U.K. to display how the panels can work as desirable consumer products that bring value to your home.

“First impressions are everything, and that applies to houses just as much as people,” said STA CEO Paul Barwell. “Stunning Solar shows that solar can increase the ‘kerb appeal’ of a home, as well as making it cheaper and more eco-friendly to a household or business.”

The campaign focuses on PV installations that have been intelligently designed, and then integrated onto rooftops with the building, mounting systems and surrounding area in mind. STA wants the U.K.’s domestic PV industry to take note of these examples, and continue to innovate to attract more consumers.

“We want to challenge the industry to improve aesthetics so that every solar install, whether on a home or a commercial building, becomes an advert for our sunshine technology,” continued Barwell.

U.K. distributed solar fairing worse than expected

Industry experts were expecting the cuts to solar subsidies in the U.K. to negatively affect the distributed PV market, but new statistics released by the energy regulator confirm that it was hit harder than initially thought it would be. The new data, for small solar installed in the U.K. during February and March 2016, shows that installations have fallen 74% compared to the same period last year.

During these two months, just 21 MW of small solar was installed, whereas 81 MW was installed during these two months in 2015. Other factors may have had slight impacts, but the 64% reduction in government incentives paid to householders for installing solar is considered to be the biggest reason for the huge drop.

“The market is going through a very difficult time with deployment down considerably compared to this time last year,” said STA business analyst David Pickup. “This is of course because of the cliff-edge cut to the feed-in tariff.”

Yet STA is not willing to give up on the U.K.’s domestic solar market and believes that other incentives will present themselves, of which the aesthetical attractiveness of the installations could be one. “However we are confident that solar can still provide an attractive investment in certain circumstances and that the market will recalibrate by selling solar as a package with other smart cutting edge technology to increase self-consumption of the solar electricity,” continued Pickup.

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