What does COP26 mean to installers?

With COP26 drawing to a close, we speak with Pol Spronck, managing director of Solarwatt Technologies Ltd., to reflect on the opportunities afforded to installers.

COP26 ended with a global commitment keeping alive hopes of limiting global warming to 1.5°C to save the world from catastrophic climate change – temperatures have already risen 1.1C.

Almost 200 countries at the environmental summit agreed on rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord, though China and India stopped a commitment to end coal use and subsidies for fossil fuels.

A big moment for renewable energy. A huge opportunity for installers

The real results of the Glasgow gathering depend on what happens next but for me, this is a big moment for renewable energy in the UK and Ireland, and around the world.

As shown by the pledges, the headlines, the popularity of series such as Life at 50 Degrees and the huge investment switch from fossil fuels to clean power sources and technologies, the process of ‘decarbonising’ our lifestyles and our economy has arrived in earnest and can only gather pace.

An integrated industry response

This means the installation industry is facing a huge opportunity, both commercially and in bringing a better future for everyone. Talk of energy saving and efficiency in buildings may have induced a yawn a decade ago – now it’s a weapon in saving lives and protecting species. We in the industry must be fully ready to respond.

First, we should be unashamed advocates for our cause. That means ensuring people know the benefits of renewable energy. Thanks partly to technical advances and the emergence of efficient electricity storage, on-site solar PV, for example, is the most effective renewable energy source available to homes and businesses.

But millions are yet to discover how easy and economical it is to install rooftop solar and supporting technologies such as electricity storage and smart management systems; how they’ll benefit from lower bills and independence from remote utility providers; the fluent, stylish designs made possible by building-integrated solar, and solar PV’s vital role in advancing the coupling of energy, mobility and heat.

CO2 savings potential

And the opportunities keep emerging – the potential for CO2 savings through this integration is huge. A homeowner who operates an electric car and a heat pump with a photovoltaic system and an energy storage system reduces their own CO2 emissions by up to 90%. Think of the potential for your market.

At present we’re facing some disruption to supply chains, caused partly by COVID-19. We at Solarwatt have worked hard to ensure supply and remain well placed, not least because we established our UK subsidiary and boosted our local leadership and support teams. Industry-wide, things will improve as we emerge from the restrictions. We also need the best equipment and speaking for my team, we have that in our German-manufactured product range.

The key thing, however, is to convey well-founded confidence that people can expect the highest standards of product and service. There’s nothing more important, apart from saving the planet, than customer experience – word spreads, new inquiries come in and established clients return.

Working together across the industry

Installers and manufacturers must work together to build a culture of change and success, a way of thinking across the industry aimed at delivering the best in technical performance and product support.

We believe householders, businesses and public and government bodies want products that are guaranteed to last a generation and more and perform optimally in all weathers and environments.

Training, customer support and industry technical standards are all crucial, as we know from the programmes we’ve developed and run over the years with our product and installation partners.

But most of all, we need an attitude, a commitment to innovation, commercial success, customer service and delivering the best in solar PV and across renewable solutions – something I also call professionalism.