Pictures at an exhibition

Steve Pester, BRE, reflects on the main themes to emerge from last month’s Solar Energy UK show in Birmingham

This show just gets better each year. The Solar Power Portal awards were presented by Kate Humble, thus proving that the world of solar power is definitely a glamorous one these days!

A few things of note from the event:

The new IET Code of Practice for Grid-connected Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems (CoP for short!) was launched by a panel of the main brains behind the project. The guide is currently out for public consultation (until 07 Nov) and it is hoped that this document with help to significantly raise the bar on PV installation quality. Further details at: www.theiet.org/solar-pv.

Regarding MCS, there were some good presentations and lively discussions with MCS promising to improve some of the areas currently perceived as weak points, such as lack of random inspections, variations in quality of inspections across certification bodies, etc.

Energy storage was a strong theme, of course – everyone can see the advantages, but the cost of such systems, at least at the domestic scale, means that a subsidy is really needed to get the market started. The NSC is working with various bodies to help understand how best to integrate storage systems with renewables and the UK grid.

Of course, for the larger projects, the loss of ROCs for systems of greater than 5MW next year and the replacement scheme, Contracts for Difference (CfD), were the subject of much discussion, but a key point to emerge was that the UK is in a far better position than most of the rest of Europe in terms of market support mechanisms – we have FiTs, ROCs and now CfD, whereas many countries have little or no subsidy at all since revoking their FiT schemes. This is why the UK is now seen as the number one market within Europe.