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Posted 17/07/2013 by cgodfrey

With the sun beaming down over the whole of the UK for the last week or so, it is not hard to believe the potential that exists for solar energy. But while we revel in this unusually sunny period, we must not forget the summer of 2012 with its almost incessant rain and consequent floods. The weather here in the UK, as we all know, is unpredictable so one might think that solar energy is not really an option, but then look at Germany – with similar but sometimes more extreme weather, yet it has been the global leader in the production of solar-based energy generation.

It should not come as a surprise then that at last week’s Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco, Finlay Colville, vp at US consultancy firm Solarbuzz, highlighted the UK as the European country with the most potential outside the major more mature markets of Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the Czech Republic. And this is despite the Europe’s declining share of the global solar market, expected to reach 35.1GW in 2013 – with Europe’s share falling from 56% in 2012 to a predicted 33% in 2013.

According to Colville, the UK is the only standalone market that could see 1GW or higher levels in installed capacity in 2013. Before 2010, he said that the cumulative PV installed in the UK was less than 30MW; however, now it is probably the lowest risk EU country market, potentially sustaining a market in excess of 1GW installed capacity over the period to 2020.

So much then for the recent UK obsession with wind energy – even more unpredictable than solar – and the UK now has a minister of state who is actually championing solar energy. It is nice to know that the UK government has at last recognised an energy source that many people, even in the north of England and Scotland, have for some time understood, invested in and been enjoying the benefits of in terms of lower cost energy.

Sunlight is free so why not take advantage of it. Solar panels, unlike us, work better when the sun is shining, although just like us they need a cooling breeze to maintain their efficiency.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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