Local PV professionals now focusing on robust UK market

At a time when the Greek photovoltaic market continues to shrink, local sector professionals are re-establishing themselves in the UK market.

At least 3,000 Greek PV sector professionals, two big companies, the EPC contractors Metka-Egnatia and Biosar, several smaller subcontractors, and tradesmen specializing in various fields, are all focusing their efforts on the UK’s booming market. The local PV sector’s turn to the UK market has been in progress over the past couple of years.

The British PV market has remained robust despite a recent announcement by the David Cameron-led administration of an upcoming cut in PV-linked subsidies. Demand for sector experts remains high and the emigration of Greek PV professionals to the UK has continued unabated.

It is estimated that over 1,500 Greek professionals are active in the UK’s PV market during certain periods, while a further 1,500 to 2,000 work on UK projects from their Greek bases.

This time of the year is typically a high-demand period for the UK’s PV market as investors rush to complete projects ahead of an annual tariff reduction, made every March 31. The heightened activity has required Greek professionals to recruit additional members to their teams in order to meet demand.

The UK’s PV market began experiencing rapid growth in 2012 and has grown at an even faster rate from 2013 onwards.

According to data provided by BPVA, the British Photovoltaic Association, the UK’s installed capacity of PV systems is expected to exceed 7 GW by the end of this year, while an objective of over 22 GW has been set for 2020.

The Greek company Biosar has so far installed close to 200 MW of PV systems in the UK. Egnatia, which recently joined forces with Metka to form a subsidiary firm, Metka-EG, installed nearly 100 MW of PV systems in the UK last year. It is striving for a further 100 MW this year.

Relatively subdued IRR rates of around seven percent yielded by the UK’s PV sector have served as an advantage, offering market stability, unlike overpriced markets, such as those in Greece and Spain, which overheated and led to bubbles that eventually burst.

As a result, market analysts believe the UK’s PV sector will remain a sustainable and promising investment prospect, despite the lower IRR rates expected as a result of imminent subsidy cuts.

However, foreign firms seeking business opportunities in the UK need to adapt to a highly challenging environment as a result of a vast number of various standards that need to be met. These cannot be easily satisfied by average-sized Greek companies. A large percentage of foreign firms trying their luck in the UK market ultimately fail to succeed.