Google searches for 'solar PV' are as low as at the start of the FIT scheme

Google Trends Analysis; Solar PV, England

Leeds Solar have used the google trends website to analyse the trend in the number of searches for the term 'solar PV' by google users based in England, and the results are fairly shocking.


Long term trend in Google searches for the term 'solar PV' in England

long-term trend in google searches for 'Solar PV' in England

Note. The current level is shown by the horizontal black line

The number of searches has now fallen to approximately the level it stood at 2 years ago at the very start of the FIT scheme in April 2010.


Last 12 months trend in Google searches for the term 'solar PV' in England

solar PV google searches 12 month trend to August 2012

The volume of searches in August 2012 has fallen to around 1/3 of the volume a year ago, and only around 20% of the peak volume that occured shortly after the October FIT cut announcement.

Interest continues to drop off through the year, and now stands at around half the level it was at in March after the first (legal) FIT cut to 21p.


Last 30 days trend in Google searches for the term 'solar PV' in England


We would show you the graph of the volume of searches for the last 30 days, but for the first time since 2009 the volume of searches isn't actually high enough for google to even register them on the trends website.


Analysis & Comment

In order to really understand the magnitude of these figures, it's also important to remember that the number of MCS certified solar PV installation companies is now around 10 times higher than in the Summer of 2010, and 4 x higher than last summer.

It seems clear that as many installers have suspected, this decline in interest must have been masked in the official installation figures by the rent your roof type volume installers who have large sales teams soare better able to overcome reduced levels of interest.

It's our assessment that public confidence in the industry, and the FIT scheme has been seriously damanged over the last 9 months, the blame for which must lie mainly with DECC for 9 months of chaos, confusion and a constant stream of cuts and ill thought through changes to the FIT scheme.


A Wake Up Call to DECC

We hope this analysis acts as a wake up call to DECC, and others representing the industry to stop burying their heads in the sand and pretending everthing's hunky dory.

It isn't, and another cut in 10 weeks time isn't going to help the situation. It's about time that DECC realised that it needs a partnership with the solar industry to actually deliver it's 2020 targets, and it's in severe danger of losing the majority of the trained workforce and experienced installation companies for good over the Autumn and Winter if it continues blindly on with it's current course of action.

We urge DECC to urgently review the consequences of their actions over the last year, and sit down with the industry to jointly agree the best way forward, before ploughing ahead with further cuts and half baked changes.


*Please note, Leeds Solar will be starting work on a contract in September to install 150-200 solar PV systems for a property management agent, which should keep us busy through the Winter, and have several other large contracts in the pipeline, so should survive ourselves. At current installation rates we're seriously concerned about how many companies will survive through the winter.

We hope this blog article might alert DECC to this ticking timebomb of an issue so they can understand more fully the consequences of their actions, as we believe the full consequences for installers in the domestic market are being masked in the official figures.

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