A report released last week announced that the solar industry has grown worldwide despite the recession which has gripped economies. The report stated that the photovoltaic industry saw a 89 per cent increase through 2008, something which has been reflected through the first quarter of this year with the rise of investment in green technologies.
2008 marked an important watershed for the solar industry and photovoltaic technology in general, particularly in the UK as the British government passed legislation designed to promote green energy. The Energy Act of November and the establishment of the Department of Energy and Climate Change was seen to mark a shifting of gear in British political circles as the UK government sought to establish environmental legislation, emulating the success stories of California, Spain and Germany. The solar successes, particularly in Western Europe have been based largely on the establishment of coherent feed-in tariffs which have proved to be effective mechanisms at incentivising investment in the green sector.
In spite of the global photovoltaic revolution breaking out, the UK government has been slow to get behind the solar industry with enough weight to encourage green investment en masse. The recent political rhetoric of the prime minister Gordon Brown in which he espoused the need for a ‘Green New Deal’ in order to revitalise the economy through ‘greentech’ investment has not been immediately followed up by action. The feed-in tariffs which were established in principle at the end of last year will not come into effect until 2010 and until then, there are no other government schemes in place to make solar investment viable since the government terminated its grant program without warning at the beginning of the year.
Leading members of the solar industry, along with representatives from the construction industry have lobbied the government in order to ensure that the government’s rhetoric on solar and climate change is matched by action which will allow the solar industry to reach its potential in the UK, just as it is doing in Germany with outstanding commercial results.