Well, the main show season is nearly over until next March and we all head down to EcoBuild again. It’s been a really refreshing and upbeat few weeks across the renewables sector. First was the Renewables Show, combined with the Energy and Water shows at the NEC. Not usually a good one for renewables as it’s so close to some of the others, but it was busy, Waste to Energy and biogas were well presented, as well as a few from the renewables sector. It set the tone for the coming month. Most people I spoke to were pleasantly surprised and were pleased they attended or exhibited.
Next I was fortunate to be asked to chair a couple of the seminar sessions at NextGen/Ebac at Stoneleigh Park, and not just for the free coffee and cake. Again the footfall was good, and both days seemed very busy. This is a show focused largely on Biomass, Biogas and AD, but again solar and finance were well represented. People often criticise this show for organisation but it’s got much better over the years. The seminars were well attended, the stands were mostly busy (I’m sure some will disagree, especially some of the smaller ones on the fringes, and the few outdoors). There is still clearly a very big appetite in the farming and rural communities for renewables of all shapes and sizes, although Biomass and the commercial RHI are kings at present. Having said that the solar energy seminar was busy too, and many people still keen to get commercial scale project underway, and a good interest in the sub 5MW groundmount.
Back to the NEC last week for the Solar Show UK, and apart from a minor lighting incident on the opening morning it was a busy show for all three days. Sadly I could only make the Tuesday, and had numerous client and contact meetings, but managed a good few circuits before I left, and there was a significant buzz and busyness about the place. This it seems existed right up to the last on Thursday afternoon, when traditionally everyone wants to pack up and go home. Clients I’ve spoken to since confirmed the footfall and buzz was positive the whole time. That’s sure a lot better than Mr Barkers appearance a couple of years back that left everyone in the doldrums.
It was great to see a physical representation of what we all know, that the industry as a whole is in good shape. Yes, we have issues coming, RHI reductions, CfD’s, an anti-solar farm agenda, an election, but when hasn’t our industry faced challenges and obstacles? Most of my clients are manufacturers, and most are actively adding to their teams at present. They all see a path beyond April and May next year. New challenges yes, new ways of doing business, new sectors to focus on, but with a positive outlook generally.
The only counter note I see is in distribution, and in particular those that only distribute solar products. I can see the demise of many smaller players, with one or two already gone, or teetering. Margins are so tight, and some manufacturers willing to go direct, and the better funded and established distributors making it hard. Sadly we’ll see some losses and closures there. Overall though the market is busy, opportunities are plenty, and hope springs eternal (Hope is a renewable resource).
RenewableUK in Manchester for the wind sector, then Roll on EcoBuild