SEUK 2015aI was asked for a summary of the event by a journalist and my simple response was this.

“Given the circumstances the SEUK show this week in Birmingham was a very positive and lively event. Most clients and contacts we spoke with are quite bullish for the year ahead, whilst recognising there will be challenges and difficulties. Some of our clients are continuing to hire in the UK for the commercial solar sector, confident they have a post FIT plan that works.  Storage was of course a hot topic, and clearly that is a market that will grow significantly, although won’t be a full or instant fix for the installer market. It will evolve, not be a panacea for the first week in 2016.  Overall resilience and innovation were the key themes at pretty much every stand and conversations I had. Long live UK solar!”

The level of confidence and liveliness was a consistent message from most I have spoken to since. Of course some exhibitors claimed not to cover their costs, but many said they had a good show financially. I think it reflects the stoicism of the industry now, and its resilience.  A few years ago when Greg Barker dropped his first FIT bombshell the place was like a morgue, this time there was a healthy mix of determination, pragmatism and optimism along with the obvious frustration and anger. There is no doubt 2016 will be a challenge for us all, how much of a challenge we’ll soon find out. It is so hard to call the outcome of the consultation, and how relevant the outcome will be, given the run-rate of installs happening as I write. Industry numbers man Finley Colville predicted another 3GW deployed by April 2016. Just what that would do to DECC budgets is predictable, a fair few squeaky bottoms at DECC and Treasury! Yet there are starting to be some vague rumours of  a 4p FIT among others. Perhaps rumours to appease the pack as the redundancies and closures mount?  You can’t help but be a cynic after 8 years on the SolarCoaster.  Yet, you can’t help being an optimist either.  The short term will be tough, the long term WILL be Solar….and Storage.

As for storage expect a repeat of sorts with solar. Rapid decrease of costs, rapid increase of deployment, a government clueless of any of it, and cowboys doing a ‘double-glazing’ to poor consumers. Some lessons are never learned, especially from a government so entrenched in the 19th Century, building baseload no-one needs, white elephants (Hinckley Point(less)) no-one wants at a price no-one can afford. Let’s not start on Fracking.

Soon this will be out of their control though, and in ours, grid parity, economic storage and savvy consumers will ensure decentralised power wins out, and with solar as top dog.

In the meantime we’ve got work to do…..