Nine years on from the beginning of the feed-in tariff and the solar industry is a changed beast.
Larger, certainly. Wiser, perhaps. One thing is for sure, it has learned to thrive in the face of uncertainty and rampant adversity.
The process to implementing a feed-in tariff (FiT) wasn’t the easiest, requiring lobbying of a government that didn’t have any faith in solar. On 1 April 2010, however, it was finally introduced by what was then the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), met with excitement and hope by the industry that had campaigned for it.
“Everybody was over the moon,” says industry stalwart Ray Noble, speaking of his instrumental role in lobbying for the scheme. Noble has had a long history with the government, working as an adviser for approximately 20 years.
Noble says the FiT was hard to get off the ground for the very reason it was needed: there had to be proof that solar would work in the UK. As it was, there was a belief within the government that solar wasn’t an option for the UK due to less than optimal weather conditions in comparison to the booming markets of the time in Southern Europe.
There were no plans by the government to have a FiT in the UK. But then things changed.
There were the first inklings that solar might be viable in the UK, with demand for the large-scale building projects and first domestic roof projects that were springing up exceeding the money available. Whilst this was a sign of a market that was starting to grow, the belief in government was that solar would only work south of the M4. The view was that solar further North, particularly solar in Scotland, could not and would not work. Of course, that idea seems almost laughable now.
And so in 2010 the FiT was born, with the hope of it sparking a wider solar market in the UK. And that it most certainly did.
Read more: Solar Power Portal