Solar Guide: Record Number of Installations, Royal Backing and Mega-Firm Involvement will Boost Solar Industry

Solar has been the focus of many reports in recent weeks with UK installation numbers in August setting a new record, Prince Charles being granted permission to install a solar PV panel array on the roof of his London home and Marks & Spencer becoming the latest recognised UK mega-company to offer solar PV and solar thermal water heating packages. Solar Guide, the free online resource for homeowners and engineers regarding all solar-related issues, says the recent news will be a welcome boost for the industry.

Solar has been a key talking point in the opening week of September, headed by Ofgem’s Feed-in Tariff Statistical Report for August that said 3,606 solar PV installations were fitted in August, more than doubling the previous record.

In fact, the record has been broken consecutively in the last three months with June recording 1,397 installations and July bettering that with 1,736.

The improved wave of installations signals the overwhelming success of the Feed-in Tariffs launched back in April, with 8,037 homes (up until August) opting to have solar PV fitted since the incentive went live.

And amongst those homeowners looking to make the most of the environmental and financial benefits of the Feed-in Tariff and solar PV electricity is Prince Charles.

The Prince of Wales received a go-ahead from Westminster to fit 32 solar panels worth approximately £30,000 to 132 square feet of his Clarence House roof in London.

The 180-year-old home of the Prince since 2003 will have the panels fitted on the south-east facing roof and is estimated to produce around 4,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year for the Prince.

But it’s not just the Prince of Wales who is jumping on the solar bandwagon – Marks & Spencer, considered high street royalty, is also set to take advantage of the solar market too.

The retail firm has become the latest UK-based giant to launch an offer for a range of Solar PV and Solar thermal water heating panels.

M&S Energy, which works alongside Scottish Southern Energy (SEE), will offer two solar packages incorporating both solar electricity and water heating with PV installation prices starting from £7,999 and thermal packages starting from £3,999.

David Holmes, founder of Solar Guide, said the recent raft of positive news will be a welcome boost to the solar industry, especially following reports that both the Feed-in Tariff and impending Renewable Heat Incentive could get reviewed in the not too distant future.

“The whole solar market would have seen a drastic change, especially within the last month,” said Holmes.

“The first summer of the Feed-in Tariffs was always going to be important as it would be a clear signal of whether the public would take microgeneration and solar as a serious option. And with the improved uptake, high-profile backing and new packages from some of the biggest companies in the country, it’s clear that solar is now a competing mainstream choice for electricity and heat generation.

“Solar Guide found more people were researching into the benefits for solar in August than any other previous month, with more people taking advantage of the information on the website and tools like the Solar PV Calculator which allows potential consumers to get an ideal of the potentially costs and payback through the Feed-in Tariff if they decide to install solar panels.”

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