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Enclosure solutions offer experience to the UK photovoltaics market

As energy costs continue to increase, and environmental concerns grow throughout the general population, research and investment in renewable energy technologies is at an all time high.

Probably one of the most efficient and popular of the new energies is solar power; while this technology has been used for many years in a number of European countries, in the UK it is a young industry. Despite recent changes to the government feed-in tariff, small and large scale investment is expected to continue to increase in the UK. UK installers, therefore, are clamouring to find suppliers with industry experience who can reliably supply the UK market.

Over the last three years interest in photovoltaic (PV) technology has grown significantly in the UK; solar panels can be seen on the roofs of both large and small businesses, as well as many private homes. However, in Germany, solar power has been making significant contributions to the national grid for over 20 years. There, it is a large industry with many specialist suppliers that have developed products which are ideal for the changeable, exterior locations in which PV installations are, by definition, located.

Spelsberg ELS has been working with the photovoltaics industry in Germany since the early 1990s. Originally supplying enclosures that provided superior levels of protection from the harsh environments, as the company became more experienced in the industry it began to develop products designed specifically for PV technology.

Alfred Vrieling, Spelsberg’s head of Business Development for Europe, comments: “We have been involved in the PV market since the technology was in its infancy. This puts us in a fantastic position to be able to act as partners to our customers in technological development. Our expertise has allowed us to understand the different requirements for PV and as such develop a range of products that is specialised to this technology. We are now responsible for the supply of enclosures for many large projects spanning the whole of Europe.”

Throughout Germany, and other European countries such as Spain and France, the company has been involved in many large photovoltaic installations, including the large PV fields that can provide up to 70 MW of electricity (enough for over 16,000 homes). This has given it the expertise to act as a partner, as well as a supplier, to PV installers; working closely with them to develop customised products that fit exact application requirements.

Every product is subjected to a battery of tests, to evaluate more than 20 quality-related parameters, including weather resistance, UV protection and to ensure that heat dissipation is achieved; products are then awarded the necessary certification, ensuring the client receives fully compliant products.

When compared to the rest of Europe’s leading economic powers, the UK’s PV industry is extremely young, however since the government feed-in tariff was introduced in April last year there has been a significant increase in investment by both businesses and individuals. Despite a recent announcement declaring alterations to this tariff, the technology appears to have sunk into the nation’s psyche as environmental consciousness has become more prevalent in society, and industry experts expect investment to continue at all levels.

As the UK catches up to the rest of Europe there is an opportunity for UK based installers to find overseas investments for larger projects. However, to compete with the European PV markets it is essential that they find suppliers that can be relied upon to deliver quality products, suitable to the PV market, which can be delivered in short lead times and are competitively priced.

Alfred Vreiling, Head of Business Development, Spelsberg Europe

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