Barker urges PV sector to capture new business in Green Deal

greg Barker resized

Climate change minister Greg Barker has urged PV installers to throw their weight behind the Green Deal when it launches at the end of January.

Speaking at the launch event of BRE’s National Solar Centre at London’s Royal Academy of Engineering, he said that 2013 would be an important year for the sector following the testing times experienced by many in the aftermath of reductions to the Feed-in Tariff.

The minister said that although installation rates had suffered, the industry was in good shape and showed clear signs of recovery.

“This last year has been a difficult period of adjustment,” he said.

“But despite all the adverse publicity these changes generated, one fact remains true. Solar is still a great deal. This message is starting to feed through into real-life activity. This last week’s installation figures have shown encouraging signs that the market is stabilising with nearly 1500 installations equating to 5MW.

“I want the industry to embrace the changes taking place. There are real opportunities here for you; Use the Green Deal to market solar PV as an energy saving option, use the commercial Green Deal to drive solar’s part in the distributed energy revolution, take opportunities to capture new business with the support of government.”

Barker went on to say that whilst he was sympathetic with PV installers who suffered a sharp downturn in business since the end of the higher 43p/kWh FiT rate, valuable lessons had been learned from the process and the legal action which followed. He added that cynics of the Green Deal should put their confidence in the energy efficiency scheme as it relies less on government funding than the direct Feed-in Tariff subsidy.

“The industry is not to blame for that (the knock on effects of changes to FiT). That lies squarely on the shoulders of the architects of the original scheme. But while I accept we had no choice but to act, it wasn’t easy or without difficult consequences.

“It was a very difficult period but we had to manage it like other countries across the UK. With the benefit of hindsight, everyone might have done things differently. It is important to let bygones be bygones.

“The thing about Green Deal which makes it unique is that it doesn’t require any government money, apart from the ECO element. It comes from the private sector so an investor or potential customer can have real confidence that it will be here to stay.

“We have all learned the lesson that political certainty is key to long term sustainable growth.”