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Market research and consulting firm, iSuppli has released a report showing the UK as the world’s fastest growing solar market in research looking at solar uptake since last year.

Good news indeed for UK solar and exactly the kind of market reaction which was expected following the announcement of the introduction of feed-in tariffs by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. While the cynics among you might point out that the UK was starting from the lowly figure of 6MW of output in 2009, it in no way detracts from growth figures of 1500 per cent, up to 96MW this year.

Feed-in tariffs, introduced in April 2010 work by offering fixed, guaranteed rates for small scale producers of renewable energy both for the energy they use and the surplus energy fed-back into the grid. The power companies are obliged by the legislation to buy the units of electricity at the top rates, the costs of which are passed onto the consumers.

In areas such as Germany, California and Spain, tariff systems have been an extremely effective way of generating investment interest in new renewable industries, traditionally perceived as unviable. Indeed, the annual Ernst & Young Investment Attractiveness Indices consistently ranks those countries with strong tariff legislation as the most attractive for renewable investors looking for good returns on their capital.

The UK growth is such that it has outstripped that of Spain, a mature solar market whose growth only tipped 730 per cent.

Dr Henning Wicht, Director of iSuppli commented that,

“Things definitely are looking brighter for the solar market in the United Kingdom in 2010, as the country has adopted attractive Feed-in-Tariffs to promote PV adoption. Furthermore, with leading solar country Germany cutting its FITs, the focus of the PV world is shifting to places with more favourable incentives, making the United Kingdom a solar hotspot this year.”

With tariff legislation now in place and growing consciousness of the viability of renewable energy, it is expected that the UK solar market will continue to grow albeit at the more steady rate of 50 per cent. The iSuppli study estimates that the UK market will reach 214MW by 2012 and 501MW by 2014 helping the UK to go along way to meeting its carbon reduction targets and building the foundations of a strong renewable energy industry capable of competing with the like of Spain and Germany.

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