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Getting your share of the renewable energy market

Figures released recently by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association reveal that roofs could, technically, generate up to 40% of electricity demands across the EU by 2020.

Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar into direct current electricity using solar cells. More figures which demonstrate the increasing popularity of the technology come from Ofgem, which states that the UK market for solar energy should reach an installed figure of 60MW by the end of 2010. It is already popular across the rest of Europe and, following the introduction of the new feed-in tariffs in April this year, its popularity is expected to grow further in the UK too over the coming years.

There are already a host of larger projects underway in the UK today, with R-ECO currently constructing the UK’s first ever solar park in Cornwall. Even the National Trust is getting on board – it is in the process of looking at how it will use up to 200 buildings next year to generate its own electricity to help combat climate change.

All you need to do is look up at the roofs of buildings around you to see the increasing popularity of this technology. Solar panels are popping up everywhere - on public buildings, education facilities and even social housing projects and private dwellings.

So, in these continuing difficult times, it makes sense to consider extending your knowledge-base into this area to reap your share of this potentially profitable business opportunity. There are many course available, including one provided by NICEIC which has been designed to provide experienced electricians with the necessary skills for basic design, installation, commission and servicing of Solar PV systems. I will also deliver a certificate of competence to individuals who wish to apply to join the MCS Installer Scheme.

The NICEIC Solar PV course covers the majority of small scale Photovoltaic systems currently installed within the British Isles. It will also cover information required to design, install, commission, service and fault find.

There are plenty of other courses available. Surely it is worth doing a bit of homework to find out what is involved and to further investigate what opportunities this market may offer in your region.

I am interested to hear your views...have you taken a course? Was it worth the money? And do you see a future for photovoltaic technology in the UK?

E-mail me your thoughts

Reg Dixon, Consultant, Niftylift Ltd

At present energy costs it makes no economic sense to install PV panels whilst these remain at the order of £5 per uninstalled watt.

Organisations funded by the taxpayer should at present cost/technology levels be prevented from such senseless investment.

Currently (sic) talk of selling excess PV energy to the national grid is just the usual dimensionless 'politician speak'.

Equally the double glazing and small windmill industries market similarly uneconomic products for locations where regular energy sources are available.

However there is money to be made from these and other green fashion products and it seems odd that the UK govt for all it's 'green opportunities' talk does so little to stimulate UK research and manufacture.

By way of example, present day large/ugly PV panels with their miserable conversion efficiencies of a few % will be overtaken by those capable of economically converting more than 20% of incident energy.

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