A PV solar panel gold rush

Just like the supermarkets a week before Christmas, the PV solar panel (photovoltaic) installation industry is now going through a frenzy of demand.

We have seen this boom and bust scenario many times since the feed-in tariffs were initially introduced in 2011, with smaller spikes in demand and seen on a regular basis.

The side of the story you don’t hear is that the reason that PV solar incentives are being reduced is that the overall costs of an average photovoltaic installation have been reducing year to year.

Averagely sized systems which may have cost you upward of £10,000 only four years ago are now a more respectable £5-6,000 (depending on size and company installing).

So in actual real-terms, you are not losing out even if you install with a reduced tariff rate because the upfront costs are much much cheaper than earlier adopters of solar panels would have paid in most cases.

“It will undoubtedly be the best purchase you make this decade.”

As I have always shouted from the rooftops (excuse the pun) about this window of opportunity, getting a solar panel installation as soon as possible can only benefit you and your family for the next three decades to come.

The current feed-in tariff rate will reduce in April 1st, 2014 again and those installing before December 31st will get the ‘Cost of Living Increase added to their feed-in tariff payment in April 2014, but systems registered in January onwards will not see a ‘Cost of Living’ increase until April 2015.

This scheme accounts for the current solar installation ‘gold rush’, and just like every other gold rush in history, there will be benefactors and those left disappointed. Disappointment is the wrong word in this situation because although a ‘minor reduction’ in the feed-in tariff ‘incentive’ will happen, the incentive is not disappearing in full just yet.

The incentive was designed only as a ‘leg up’ for an industry in its infancy; the tariffs scheme will continue to be reduced longer-term as the industry strengthens through higher numbers of adoption.

Far from the madding crowds

If you miss the deadline, then all is not lost.

Most of the solar installers I know are almost already fully booked up in advance for most of pre-deadline next year. Those with installation days still available will undoubtedly raise their prices to benefit from this short-lived bonanza.

So as many solar installers gear up for a busy early 2014, and the impending slump after the tariff deadline has passed, the real opportunity for you and your family to benefit from all this, could come after the deadline frenzy has passed.

Learning from the experience of the last few solar boom and busts, the chances for you to pick up a bargain comes after the rush. Companies who are experiencing busy times and easy sales will increase their prices above the norm during more hectic times.

“Companies may reduce their prices back to normal levels or even with reduced discounts after the deadline.”

Playing the more extended game by waiting, you are already benefiting from the reduction in costs of manufacturing from people who installed systems during the first 2011 feed-in tariff frenzy.

Waiting for the next peak in demand to subside after April 2014, you then become a valuable customer indeed to solar companies who will have seen their easy sales disappear overnight. Your ability to get a ‘better deal’ is significantly improved.

Your bartering potential as a customer in the solar panel installation market will be much stronger as solar companies will suddenly and yet again have to find work for the army of installers.

There is a ‘window of opportunity’ to gain the feed-in tariffs here, but there is also a window within that window to benefit from additional lower panel and installation costs for the astute.

Just like the January sales after the big Christmas shopping frenzy, you will be spoilt for bargain choice. Timing is everything, and you could bag yourself a solar panel bargain before the predicted costs of manufacturing begin to rise again. This unique window in time when incentives were excellent and solar technology costs are low will not last indefinitely.

It will undoubtedly be the best purchase you make this decade.

Merry Christmas, good luck and a ‘grab yourself a solar bargain’ in the new year.

What do you think?

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2013-12-10
Founder of Power My Home.