Cheaper panels lead to price-driven buyers

Positive push: Jason Hobbins, EnergyMyWay, says we should be urging customers to think beyond price when investing in solar PV
Jason Hobbins, managing director of EnergyMyWay discusses the hazards of a solar price war

Since early 2011, solar PV panel prices have dropped by approximately 60 per cent and continue to fall. This may be good news for the industry as it means consumers can still achieve very healthy returns from the current Feed-in Tariff rates. But this rapid and well-publicised price drop has also led to a deluge of marketing from installers promoting cheap panels. This price driven advertising is in turn leading to the emergence of a highly price-sensitive purchaser.

Jason Hobbins, managing director of EnergyMyWay explains why customers should be urged to think beyond the price when investing in solar PV: “On the one hand, it’s good news that we can now offer our customers a lower-cost option for solar PV, but there are other factors such as quality of manufacture, reliability guarantees and installer credentials that should be a consideration when purchasing something that is going to be on their roof for at least 20 years. Taking time to establish what really matters to our customers and showing them the range of options available always leads to a more educated purchase and rarely the cheapest.”

Mr Hobbins expresses concerns with the solar industry entering a ‘price war’ and losing site of the genuine benefits of the technology. He explains: “There is a sense of frenzied competition amongst solar installers at the moment, which is doubtless a result of the panic caused by the sudden drop in demand with the tariff cuts. We must remember to look after the customer at the heart of our industry, it is our responsibility to give them best advice and long-term reassurance.”

A marketplace based on price cuts is an uncomfortable place to run a business. Solar PV continues to be the most popular domestic renewable energy and the stability of the Feed-in Tariff should lead to the PV market settling down and selling on benefits other than simply price.