Generating electricity from solar power is a growing market in the UK with over 40,000 installations registered under the UK Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) scheme, launched by the labour Government in 2010. As a financial incentive, FITs have lead to a rapid expansion of the solar industry with residential properties and rural farmers leading the way, especially in the sunnier parts of the UK such as the South West. The solar PV industry though has moved from an investment-led model to a generation one now thanks to a reduction in the FIT financial incentives available.
In February 2011, the new coalition Government stepped in and launched a fast-track review of how the scheme was working for PV (photovoltaic) installations over 50kW. This followed evidence showing that there was as much as 169 Megawatts of large scale solar capacity in the planning system. That is equivalent to funding solar panels on the roofs of 50,000 private dwellings. The Government announced amendments to the scheme to prevent large-scale solar producers and commercial companies from benefitting and to preserve the £400 million fund for home-owners, communities and small businesses that wanted to generate solar electricity for their own use.
As an energy consumer, it is possible to benefit from solar electricity generation even without installing solar panels on your own property by buying your energy from a supplier that offers solar. By doing so, it will not be possible to benefit from free or cheap solar energy, nor the FITs scheme, which you can only do as a registered renewable power installation.
The UK Government has stated that it is committed to an ambitious roll out of micro-generation technologies, which solar electricity generation is, as part of its ‘green’ vision and a more decentralised energy economy. Fast falling costs in solar technology allow even more homes to benefit from these eco-friendly systems. The Government is now reduced the FITs available as support for all new PV installations but these can still show a good rate of investment return thanks to the falling costs of solar PV systems themselves.