Tuesday Feb 07, 2023

UK interest in solar power heats up as energy bills soar – EURACTIV


Boom in solar panel demand is clouded by supply chain disruption, a fragmented industry as well as ethical issues, reports EURACTIV’s media partner, The Guardian.

“It’s hot,” says Steve Springett, a director of the renewable energy brand Egg, cheerily assessing the solar market. “There’s two key factors: people are understanding the environmental benefits of it better, and energy is really, really expensive at the moment.”

Consumer interest has increased in recent months as Britons hunt for ways to cut huge energy bills. A reduction in VAT on energy efficient systems from 5% to nothing this spring has added to the appeal of solar power.

The number of eBay searches for solar panels and solar power batteries increased by 54% and 134% respectively in June, compared with same period last year. Consumers are also increasingly hunting for smart meters as they try to keep a handle on their energy use.

Murray Lambell, the general manager of eBay UK, says: “As the cost of living crisis hits, shoppers are seeking out savvy investments to keep energy costs low wherever they can. Many are choosing green energy options as a solution that’s good for their wallet and the planet, and we’ve seen a significant surge in demand for products like solar panels and batteries as a result.”

The boom is the latest in an industry so known for its unpredictable fortunes that it has been called the “solar coaster”. The name emerged from peaks and troughs created by the government’s “feed-in tariffs”, through which householders received payments for the electricity generated by eligible systems to incentivise their uptake.

A rush of installations took place on the eve of each deadline before payments would become less generous, followed by a fallow period. The closure of the scheme to new applicants in March 2019 drained some of the buoyancy from the market. Industry watchers say the market had become more stable since the scheme ended – until this year.

Data from the consumer credit reporting company Experian shows that about 1.9m households intend to install solar panels or other renewable capabilities this year.

Springett says the huge increase in energy bills could reduce the time it takes to recoup the cost of an installed system, coming down from “double-digit years” to more like seven, depending on size and location of the property. Warranties usually last for 25 years and the panels – also known as photovoltaic cells – can last for up to 40 years. Costs typically vary between £5,000 and £15,000 for a family home, and applications to connect to the grid can take about three months.

“There’s a definite crossover between people who are getting solar panels, and electric cars and heat pumps. They want the whole package,” says Springett.

EU solar power generation hits record high

Solar power supply in the European Union during June and July rose to a record high in 2021, accounting for 10% of total electricity produced in the region, a report by independent climate think-tank Ember said on Wednesday (18 August).

The clamour for panels is now so great that one senior industry executive says his company ran out of labour and materials to take new orders. “I tried to pass on inquiries to competitors to help out the customers only to find out they didn’t have the capacity to help them either. A lot of the …….

Source: https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/uk-interest-in-solar-power-heats-up-as-energy-bills-soar/

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