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Taking on the task of spreading the word of the UK’s potential in the solar market, Solar Power UK organised the hugely successful conference on October 18-19. The conference, the theme of which was “Enabling the UK Solar Market for 2011,” drew over 450 delegates from all facets of the solar PV industry, including installers, suppliers, manufacturers, investment companies, and members of the media.
More than 30 speakers expressed their views and projections for the UK, which is gearing up to be a serious actor in the global solar industry. The two-day conference took place at the IET’s (Institute of Engineering and Technology) venue in Savoy Place, a stone’s throw from the banks of the Thames. Delegates attending the conference were seated in the Lecture Theatre and treated to gourmet buffet-style lunches on both days.
The conference turned out to be hugely popular, with several hopeful visitors looking to gain entry on the day--they were, however, disappointed as the conference was full to capacity.
David Owen, CEO of Solar Media Ltd., was overwhelmed by the response to the conference. “It’s been so encouraging…we’ve already had so many queries as to what our plans are for next year’s event. I’d like to thank everyone involved in making this event happen-- with the continued support of our team, sponsors, participating organisations, and exhibitors, we’ll be able to drive the UK solar market forward.”
Speakers contributing to day one’s line-up included public procurement consultant Stephen Cirell, who provided an overview of the methods of solar energy procurement by local councils, while EPIA’s Dr. Winfried Hoffman put the UK on the European map from a solar perspective. Dave Sowden from the MicroPower Council spoke on the current and future requirements to lobby for governmental support, while the DECC’s David Wagstaff’s contribution clarified the government’s position on solar power and renewables as a whole--a stance that has been further bolstered by today’s feed-in tariff news.
The grand finale of day one was the Gala Networking Dinner (sponsored by Trina Solar), which took place on Bateaux London’s Symphony vessel on the Thames. The dinner tickets, snapped up by those who had had the foresight to purchase them while they were still available, became rare and valuable items as delegates realised the networking opportunities that the informal dinner had to offer.
Day two kicked off with a more financial and legal focus, with presentations from zouk ventures’ Colin Campbell and Alexander Pohl from HSBC delivering some intriguing insights to the workings of bankability and equity issues. Speakers in the later sessions included Ash Sharma from IMS Research, IBC Solar’s Oliver Trier, and Jonathan Scurlock from the National Farmers’ Union, who provided some much-needed insight on the practicalities involved in building the UK’s solar market.
Feedback from the delegates was very encouraging. The Solar Power Group, which is comprised of the Solar Power Portal, the REA (Renewable Energy Association) and Photovoltaics International, among others, is already pegging next year’s follow-up event to be even more successful. It’s already taking shape, and details will be posted, when available, on the Solar Power Portal website.
“We’re delighted at the level of interest we attracted to this event. It just goes to show that there is huge potential for the UK to be a major solar player, not only in the European market, but on a global scale. We’re very excited about next year’s event and have already received a remarkable level of interest,” commented Ray Noble, PV specialist consultant with the REA, and advisor to DECC and MCS steering committee.