Video Interview: Delivering The First UK Solar Photovoltaic Market Assessment

Solar PV, Green Deal, Interview, Colin McNaught, AEA,

The Eco Experts interview Colin McNaught, Head of Knowledge at AEA – one of the world’s leading sustainability consultancies – who have just delivered the first full Assessment Report of the UK solar PV market.


Commissioned by the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA), AEA recently completed the first comprehensive report on the UK solar PV market. The report which will help businesses and solar organisations navigate the green revolution in UK energy.

The Eco Experts caught up with Colin McNaught, AEA’s importantly named Head of Knowledge, and interviewed him at Ecobuild in front of some PV panels. The video is below, followed by the full transcript.
Many thanks to Colin for granting us this interview.

Interview with Colin McNaught, Knowledge Leader at AEA


Colin McNaught speaks to The Eco Experts about the BPVA Solar Market Assessment, touted as the first report to analyse the UK solar market and therefore of great interest to the solar industry. Colin tells us his views on the feed-in tariffs, The Green Deal and where he sees the future of solar energy in the UK.

The Eco Experts: Well yes, thank you for joining us, and if you could please just explain a bit more about the PV Market Assessment that’s just been released…

Colin McNaught:”Pleasure. So, this is a piece of work that AEA’s undertaken for the British Photovoltaic Association and it’s the first comprehensive survey of the microgeneration scheme accredited installers in the UK, covering pretty much every aspect of the market: whether it’s the consumers’ requirements and what they value, what the installers value in their suppliers, whether it be modules or inverters or metrics systems; covering financial issues, covering what kind of events – like Ecobuild – they might attend, and therefore gives a 360 degree review of what’s going on, what the key factors are, in the UK marketplace.”

The Eco Experts: Brilliant, thank you. And how have you found Ecobuild today?

Colin McNaught:”Ecobuild’s been fascinating; I’ve been talking to quite a range of companies who are, by and large I think still quite positive about the UK market, who’ve seen some very rapid growth and some very big changes in the marketplace, but there still is, by and large, a positive view that there will be opportunities and businesses will be grow[ing], but there will need to be some [of what] maturity brings into the marketplace in terms of quality and maintaining quality at a price which will be increasingly competitive.”

The Eco Experts: With the new Solar PV Market Assessment, what impact do you hope it will bring to the solar market?

Colin McNaught:”We’ve seen very rapid growth in the UK solar PV marketplace: a lot of businesses entering this space and having some success, and as the market goes forward with the reduced feed-in tariff, it’ll become a marketplace where quality counts but in a market which is actually increasingly cost-competitive.

“And therefore businesses will have to become more sophisticated, and part of that is understanding the marketplace in more detail, and adapting strategies and business practises to suit that, and the report has an important part to play in providing that information to help those businesses mature.”

The Eco Experts: And where can this report be found?

Colin McNaught:“This report is available from the BPVA and was commissioned by the BPVA as a key part of developing the marketplace, and its order form and its details are available from the BPVA website.”

The Eco Experts: What are your thoughts on the feed-in tariffs and The Green Deal?

Colin McNaught:”I think if you look at Government decisions on solar PV, they clearly think that the feed-in tariff is the primary driver for the solar PV marketplace, and where there have been other incentives that have potentially cross-subsidised – had two incentives – that have benefitted the solar PV market, they’ve generally removed those so there’s only one single incentive – the feed-in tariff – that drives that marketplace.

“And I think that’s perhaps their view for The Green Deal: they see the Green Deal focussing on insulation, on heat-related measures and not on the higher capital cost measures like solar PV.”

The Eco Experts: Look into your crystal ball and give us a prediction for the solar industry for the next few years…

Colin McNaught:”Okay. I think we will see… a series of changes when the feed-in tariff price reduces, and the behaviour of the marketplace thus far has to respond very rapidly towards those changes, creating peaks in demand followed by a drought afterwards. So it’ll go: high market, low market, high market, low market… And that trend seems to be repeated twice so far and it’s quite probable that trend will be repeated going into the future.”

The Eco Experts: Thank you very much for giving your time.

“Pleasure!”


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