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China’s Trina Solar bullish on UK solar prospects

Chinese firm says 2GW of installed capacity and expected stability of government incentives are important factors in upturn for UK’s residential and commercial PV sectors

Trina Solar has said its confidence in the UK solar market stems from stability given to the PV industry by the British government

Chinese solar firm Trina Solar, global leader in photovoltaic module development, has shown a big interest in the UK solar market after stating its belief that the country’s PV industry is set to boom in 2013. The company said it predicts installed capacity will double over the next 12 months in the UK, with residential and commercial segments set for marked revivals.
 
Speaking ahead of the Ecobuild 2013 event at London’s ExCeL, this week, Richard Rushin, UK sales director at Trina Solar, explained that the company’s confidence stems from the new stability given to the UK solar PV industry by the government’s announcement last year of a graduated degression timeline for its incentive programmes.

He said: “Now that a sensibly staged path to an industry fully independent of subsidies has been clearly signposted, there is reason to think that the impressive momentum of 2012 can continue – or even be exceeded – through 2013. We have an understandable programme of rolling reductions over the next few years, offering manufacturers and installers stability that is the envy of the global solar PV community. 2GW of new installed capacity is a realistic projection for the year.”
 
Rushin said this stability has inspired a rapid pace of growth in both rooftop panel installations and large-scale ground-mounted solar farm developments. He said applications handed in to authorities until the official deadline on January 15 indicate a total of between 800MW and 1GW to be installed across solar farm sites during the first quarter of the year as people look to benefit from the peak Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) level before it is lowered on 1 April.

“We also expect that the reduced rate of 1.6 for ground-based arrays will enable expansion of the large-scale segment to continue through the rest of the year,” he said.
 
Rushin will chair a panel at Ecobuild 2013 in which he will discuss the opportunities that exist for solar technologies to revitalise the commercial market.

He said: “While solar parks have come to the fore recently, 2013 will also see a resurgence in residential and commercial installations thanks to the new clarity regarding Feed-in Tariff and ROC, as well as industry initiatives like the STA’s Your Roof campaign. There have been barriers to the commercial market in the past – notably issues around planning permission on lease-held buildings – but this market is maturing and now offers solutions for most situations, from free models to leasing and fully-capitalised projects.
 
“The current level of Feed-in Tariff continues to represent great value for domestic customers. In fact, with decreasing hardware, installation, and balance-of-system costs, rooftop panels yield the same return on investment in percentage terms as they did in 2010,” he said. “And with the wholesale price of electricity likely to rise dramatically over the next 12 months, having guaranteed prices in place for self-generation affords domestic customers a great deal of financial security. What the industry has managed to achieve in the UK is a sustainable model for future growth.”
 
“There is a clear road ahead on both incentives and policy, and the industry is working closely with the government,” he added. “We are now very well placed to achieve the 20GW of total installed solar PV capacity that DECC has indicated is technically feasible by 2020 in its latest update to its UK Renewable Energy Roadmap, which now includes solar PV among its key technologies”