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Will demand for solar panel installation level out?

The threat of potential further cuts to the government’s feed-in tariff scheme for people with solar panels on their homes has prompted a surge in the number of installations being carried out.

The feed-in tariff for solar power was slashed on August 1 this year – to 16p per kWh from 21p per kWh – and the week immediately before the cut saw some of the busiest installation work ever seen take place. Some 42MW of capacity was installed in the week before August 1, compared to 10MW installed per week in the three months following the launch of the 21p rate in March.

Paul Barwell, the chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, told industry magazine, Building, that the demand for tradesmen with solar and renewable installation skills is likely to fluctuate in the imminent future, as the 5p rate cut is likely to make people a little cold on the idea of installing panels. He said, however, that the future of solar panel installation is likely to soon return to steady growth.

“I would expect to see a tailing off in August, but hopefully we will get back to steady growth,” he explained, adding that any future cuts to the rate will more likely be much smaller and more regular. This will contribute to steady installation demand across the country, as ‘last chance’ deals offered by solar firms become less and less lucrative.

The growing popularity of domestically generated solar power in the UK is providing a brand new avenue of applications and work for electricians, roofers and other skilled workers in the UK.

Chris Hopkins, a member of the government’s Green Construction Board, said that there are plans to review the amount of solar capacity installed each quarter and cut the tariff by 3.5 per cent if installation targets are met. He said that his tactic will be “about right” and will allow for consistency to be established for the installation workers.