REA and STA to go separate ways

The Renewable Energy Association and Solar Trade Association will end their formal affiliation on 1 January 2015.

The two associations became affiliated in March 2011, when the STA merged with the REA's Solar Power Group and relaunched with representation of both the solar heating and solar power industries.

Next year the two associations will become independent once again, allowing them both to focus on their core strengths.

REA Chairman Martin Wright said:

"Solar heating and solar power are vitally important technologies, with the potential to reduce energy costs for UK households and businesses. Our members want us to strengthen our offer for these important technologies. This is what we're going to do, by building on the excellent capacity in our existing On-site and Renewable Power sector groups. We will continue to apply our unparalleled policy expertise and strong relations with Government to the goal of securing a bright future for UK solar energy.

"I'm very proud of the achievements we have secured together these past three and a half years and very grateful to the STA staff and membership for their vital work. I wish the STA every success for the future."

STA Chairman Jan Sisson said:

"Solar power has come from nowhere at the start of this Parliament to providing nearly 10% of all renewable power over the last quarter. As long as we can secure a more stable policy framework, subsidy-free solar is now on the horizon. At the same time the solar thermal sector now has the best policy framework ever under the RHI.

"The Solar Trade Association and the Renewable Energy Association have been key to these achievements, which were unimaginable when we first started working together nearly four years ago. Solar has come of age and has become a significant presence in the UK renewables market. As this market has expanded, so too must the STA to meet the new challenges ahead. It is vital that solar energy strengthens its voice, particularly with an eye on the increasingly competitive post-subsidy world.

"I would like to thank everyone at the Renewable Energy Association for its valued contribution in supporting the STA to become the highly professional, respected and influential voice of solar that it is today. It speaks volumes about the progress of the STA that we now attract all the leading names in solar to our membership and we look forward to strengthening our voice going forwards. We may now be two separate organisations, but we will continue to work side by side towards our common goal of mainstreaming renewable energy."

Through their affiliation over the past three and a half years, the REA and STA have amassed an impressive record of achievements in solar energy policy, including:

* Helping the rooftop solar power industry through the challenging period of drastic changes to Feed-in Tariffs in 2011-12 and helping to restore stable growth to the sector;

* Helping the ground-mount solar power industry grow from a standing start to being one of the leading markets in the world;

* Taking the lead on promoting best practice in the development of ground-mount solar farms, through the ‘10 Commitments', biodiversity guides and Solar Independence Day;

* Challenging Government's decision on removal of the RO for large scale solar power, running a successful ‘Solar Independence Campaign' and securing improvements to grace period requirements;

* Securing Government commitment to put "rocket boosters" under the commercial rooftop market;

* Playing a leading role in a campaign against excessive import tariffs on solar products of Chinese origin;

* Formulating policy on the Domestic and Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentives – the first in any country – frequently securing improvements on original proposals;

* Protecting ‘embedded benefits' for generators connected to the distribution grid and campaigning to reform the decision making process for changes to grid connection and usage rules;

* Playing a leading role in a campaign to keep the Government's Zero Carbon Homes agenda on track, including the preservation of the Merton Rule policy that was at risk in the 2013 Housing Standards Review;

* Playing a leading role in the Community Energy Shared Ownership Taskforce to facilitate commercially viable partnerships between renewable energy developers and community groups;

* Helping to promote consumer interest and engagement in domestic solar energy through the Your Roof campaign.

Despite ending their formal affiliation, both associations will remain open to collaboration on areas of mutual interest in the future.

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