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EcoBuild 2011 Demonstrates Growth Of Solar PV Installation Industry

EcoBuild 2011, the annual three day exhibition for the construction industry and renewable energy specialist installations, opened its doors at ExCel London on March 1st. This year's event is marked by the overwhelming presence of solar PV technology predominating in one of the two exhibition halls of 1,300 exhibitors. UK solar companies exhibiting include Solarcentury, Romag and Redland alongside international brands such as SolarWorld, AZUR Solar, Enfinity Solar and Sharp Solar.Solar PV is very much a constant feature in UK construction news as more renewable energy projects are announced in both the commercial and residential new build sector. Even as the country slowly recovers from recession, the drive to continue with the government aim to meet it's emission reduction targets has seen a growing demand for the energy efficient solar panels and for certificated solar courses trained and qualified electrical installers. The launch of the Feedin Tariff in April 2010 helped to kickstart the tenfold expansion in solar PV take up, from only 4mW installed in 2009 to over 42mW across 16,000 homes and commercial properties in 2010.The opening of the AbleSkills Renewable Energy Centre represents a major commitment to equipping electrical, plumbing and building trainees with all the latest knowledge and skills now required to meet the demands of installing energy efficient technology to help meet three quarters of the UK's energy requirement in the next ten to twenty years. A range of key City & Guilds and BPEC renewable energy courses are available, including solar PV courses, at levels 2 and 3, which are the approved national qualifications to be allowed to enter the industry.With the average UK household consumption at around 3,300 kWh per year, a basic 2kW solar panel installation generating around 1,500 kWh per year would supply nearly half of the annual requirement while a 4kW system could provide all electricity needs, depending on the average household consumption. Photovoltaic cells generate energy even when it is overcast and cloudy as they only require ambient light rather than direct sunlight to generate electricity.As well as the increasing number of homeowner properties, since the end of 2010 and right from the start of 2011, arrays of 5-50kW solar panels have been installed on the roofs on many different types of properties, including a Sainsburys supermarket in Glasgow, a building industry and public transport terminal in the East Midlands, a residential care home, library, sports complex (1mW), and even a church!Although the coalition government has declared it's intention to carefully review the FeedIn Tariffs scheme of large-scale solar panel installation by the end of 2011, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Solar Trade Association (STA) have also announced that they are about to begin working closely together to provide proactive support to both the solar PV and solar thermal industries, at this critical period.