Demand heating up fast for solar panels
SCRAP GRANT: Calls for incentive to be axed as experts say it’s holding up installations
DEMAND for solar panels is increasing so fast that the industry is calling for subsidies to be scrapped.
As green issues rise up the agenda, solar panel experts believe a £400 subsidy designed to encourage take-up is holding up installations.
At the start of March, a national monthly allocation of £600,000 was snapped up by consumers within hours.
The Government cash is distributed by the Energy Saving Trust towards a typical installation cost of around £4,000.
But experts believe that consumers would pay for the work without a subsidy and the money would be better spent on promotion and marketing.
As a tipping point approaches, with solar panels poised to become as routine as double glazing as planning regulations ease, more businesses are either installing panels or sponsoring others.
This week, the Co-op backed an installation at Fulston Manor School in Sittingbourne. More investors are putting money in solar energy companies.
Steve Robinson, director of Solar Future, based in Snodland, says that consumers expect a subsidy and delays hold up installation. He has had solar panels fitted to his home in Snodland and expects to save significant sums by using the sun to heat water.
His supplier Solaron makes panels in Essex and promotes their use.
Terry Doman, of its marketing arm Solaron Home, said: “Demand is increasing but the grant situation is holding it back. It’s not a huge amount of money and the payback is that we have a planet to pass on to the next generation.”
Jonathan Shaw, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said it was unusual to hear calls for a grant to be scrapped but promised to look into the situation.
“If the grant system is more of a hindrance than a help, as is being suggested, it’s something the DTI would want to review,” he said.
Mr Shaw said the involvement of Mr Robinson’s firm, set up in 2005, was good for the local economy and local skills.
“The potental market is huge. If we can manufacture these panels here and see the price reduced, it would make a serious dent in terms of carbon reduction,” Mr Shaw said.
Mr Doman said it was important for the public to use reputable installers and avoid the “cowboys jumping on the bandwagon to make a quick buck.”
Demand is increasing but the grant situation is holding it back. It’s not a huge amount of money and the payback is that we have a planet to pass on to the next generation
Solar panels being installed at the Snodland home of Steve Robinson, director of Solar Future