Image credit: Solarcentury (Creative Commons)
When I wrote about Solarcentury being the fastest growing UK energy company back in 2008, commenter GGTD confessed to dreaming of a "green monopoly"—arguing that we need someone as ubiquitous as Google pushing green firmly into the mainstream. Solarcentury may not be there yet, but they've just announced that they are once again the UK's fastest growing private energy company. This time they are actually the only energy company to be ranked in the The Sunday Times Tech Track 100. Looking beyond the headlines and the hyperbole, the growth figures are admittedly pretty astounding.Of course, like the inclusion of a wind energy pioneer among the UK's richest people, we should take these lists and press releases with a certain pinch of salt. Success will not be measured in short term sales growth, or money in the bank, but in creating a sustainable, long-term vision for green industries—and ultimately in navigating a path to a lower carbon, lower emission, resource efficient future.
Nevertheless, in a money-driven world, the fact that Solarcentury has seen 36% sales growth year-on-year, from £13.9m in 2007 to £34.5m in 2010, does bode well for renewables as a viable business prospect in the UK. It can only help encourage further investment, R&D; and legislative support for this crucial industry.
Derry Newman, CEO, Solarcentury, definitely seems to think this is only the beginning:
"Solar photovoltaics are proving a highly popular energy choice and have a very real role to play in the growth of the UK economy. We are optimistic about the solar sector's future and its role in helping the UK meet its pressing job creation and C02 reduction targets. The total UK photovoltaics market is forecast by Government to rise nearly 100 times to reach 2.7 GWp, cumulative, by 2020. The stability and certainty provided by the feed-in tariff means that UK PV companies can plan with confidence, invest for the future and take on many more skilled staff as the market continues to grow in a sustained way."
It is interesting to note that these sales figures were mostly achieved before the introduction of feed-in tariffs in the UK. I'm sure the debates around solar in the UK as a rip-off will continue, but it seems fair to predict that the positive economic environment will most likely mean we'll see even stronger interest in the technology in coming years.
Let's just hope we see similar growth in bike manufacturers, caulkers, insulation installers and any number of other services that can help piece together a greener future. Solar is by no means a panacea, but it sure good to see it doing so well.