Video Interview With Solar Trade Assocation CEO
Author: David Thomas
Published: Friday, 20 April 2012
We interview Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, about the feed-in tariffs, The Green Deal and the future of the UK solar industry.
Another influential character we met at Ecobuild is Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, an organisation founded in 1978 to represent solar companies.
The Solar Trade Association negotiates with Government in order to change policy, regulate and manage the solar industry. The organisation aims to increase solar power’s profile in the UK’s energy strategy.
The Solar Trade Association offers its members (450 at the time of writing) training, community, access to STA resources and a chance to affect Government policy through lobbying.
Scroll down for the video interview with Paul Barwell, and scroll further for the full transcript. The Eco Experts thank Paul for granting us our first interview at Ecobuild!
Interview with Paul Barwell, CEO of Solar Trade Association
The Eco Experts interview Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, which for over 30 years has been the community voice of the UK solar industry. At the time of writing they have around 450 members, and are dedicated to sustaining the solar industry and making it a significant feature in the Government's plans, by working with DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) and other organisations.
The Eco Experts:Could you please just briefly explain who you are and what, a little about the Solar Trade Organisation [sic]?
Paul Barwell: “Sure, sure… So, I mean the Solar Trade Association’s been around for about 30 years, we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we’re basically a membership-driven organisation for solar installers on the solar thermal side, on the PV side, manufacturers; we utilise that membership and work with Government, particularly DECC, on sort of steering them through the feed-in tariffs, renewable heat incentives…
“So really that’s our main purpose, is to work for and behalf of the membership, and represent them to stakeholders and to Government.”
The Eco Experts: Brilliant, thank you. What are your thoughts on The Green Deal, and where do you think this will leave the solar industry…
Paul Barwell: Yes!
The Eco Experts: … in the next few years? Do you think it will be an incentive that will prove to stand the test of time?
Paul Barwell: “Yes, The Green Deal, yes I mean that’s clearly a very well recognised promotional aspect from the Government’s point of view and from what we understand the solar thermal and solar PV side isn’t going to be part of The Green Deal but we think there’s every chance that in the future it will be.
“I think when The Green Deal is announced sometime in October – I believe it’s the same timing in Autumn for the renewable heat incentive to be announced, which is what we would get involved in on the solar thermal side.
“But yes, I think there’s a lot more information that needs to come out on The Green Deal you know, and I think we support it in principle; I think we’re unsure yet how it impacts PV and thermal.”
The Eco Experts: Okay, thank you. And what would you like to see from Government to try to ensure a sustainable solar industry in the future?
Paul Barwell: “I think there are certainly concerns about having a feed-in tariff within a budgetary capped scheme, in other words the whole idea at the moment is that they have to adjust the feed-in tariff because there’s only one pot of money at the end of it.
“You know, we think solar is very much… has been marginalised in the past but is very much standing on its own now, it still has a feed-in tariff mechanism which is working very well and has worked well in the past.
“We’re trying to steer it on the right glide path so that within 4, 5, 6 years we hope to have reached green parity: in other words there won’t be a requirement for having a Government-run feed-in tariff.
“So, I think what we represent is, we’re after a sustainable industry on behalf of our membership so, you know, there isn’t a stop/start, we don’t these cliffdrops when manufacturing ends and installation completes. So it’s really the sustainable industry that we’re after.”
The Eco Experts: Well, thank you very much for your time.
Paul Barwell: “No problem at all!”