Boom clouded by supply chain disruption, a fragmented industry as well as ethical issues
“It’s hot,” says Steve Springett, a director of the renewable energy brand Egg, cheerily assessing the solar market. “There’s two key factors: people are understanding the environmental benefits of it better, and energy is really, really expensive at the moment.”
Consumer interest has increased in recent months as Britons hunt for ways to cut huge energy bills. A reduction in VAT on energy efficient systems from 5% to nothing this spring has added to the appeal of solar power.
One of our solar installs in Hounslow (Image: Tanjent)
The number of eBay searches for solar panels and solar power batteries increased by 54% and 134% respectively in June compared with same period last year. Consumers are also increasingly hunting for smart meters as they try to keep a handle on their energy use.
Murray Lambell, the general manager of eBay UK, says: “As the cost of living crisis hits, shoppers are seeking out savvy investments to keep energy costs low wherever they can. Many are choosing green energy options as a solution that’s good for their wallet and the planet, and we’ve seen a significant surge in demand for products like solar panels and batteries as a result.”
The boom is the latest in an industry so known for its unpredictable fortunes that it has been called the “solar coaster”. The name emerged from peaks and troughs created by the government’s “feed-in tariffs”, through which householders received payments for the electricity generated by eligible systems to incentivise their uptake.