UK’s Leading Solar Association Seeks New CEO

Paul Barwell to step down from the Solar Trade Association, Board seeks proven leader for next phase of UK’s solar transition

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has started the recruitment process for a new CEO after Paul Barwell announced his decision to stand down to the STA Board earlier this summer. Renewables recruitment expert Igloo3 is leading the search for his successor [1].

Paul Barwell has been CEO of the STA since 2012. He has overseen the transformation of the association, originally established in 1978, to become the leading voice of the solar industry and one fully able to support the industry's rapid growth. Over 12GW of solar capacity has been deployed during this period, supplying 4% of UK electricity.
During Paul's tenure, the STA has achieved a number of key wins for the solar sector, as well as providing national leadership on industry standards. This work has helped generate record levels of public support for the technology despite its incredible growth.
The hard-earned policy successes include: softening the government's proposed Feed in Tariff (FIT) changes during two major reviews; reducing the impact of the Renewable Obligation (RO) closure for investors; negotiating fair business rates for exported solar; defining national standards for the development and construction of solar farms through STA's ‘10 Commitments'; defending and defining the cost of integrating solar into the grid; designing and retaining the maximum RHI tariff for solar thermal; identifying barriers to non-domestic rooftops and securing permitted development; winning 5% VAT for solar & new storage; defining strong standards for Operation and Maintenance of solar projects; and establishing ‘Solar Independence Day'.

Paul Barwell said;
"This was a hard decision. It has been a real privilege to support the growth of a unique & special technology that is so vital for a prosperous future. I've had the pleasure of working with some brilliant colleagues, members and partners, which has meant we punch well above our weight. But there is no doubt the solar industry has faced more challenges than it should given a track record of exceptional achievement.
It is time for a change for me personally but I won't be going far. I am pursuing some commercial interests that are very much embedded in the solar sector and I hope to remain a part of the STA's extraordinary network as a member in due course'.

Paul will stay on to support the STA while a new CEO is recruited.

STA's Chair Jonathan Selwyn said;
"Everyone has seen the great contribution the STA, under Paul's leadership, has made in the public realm to support the growth of solar in the UK. What they may not appreciate is the quality of Paul's management & industry engagement behind the scenes which has attracted a membership that is characterised by high standards and which manages around a third of all the solar deployed across the UK today.
Paul's superb strategic management of the association and his ability to maintain its membership levels against the backdrop of challenging market conditions means that the STA is in its strongest financial position ever. It has also meant the STA has moved successfully into new policy areas such as the storage space where it is already securing early policy wins. We are now looking for a new CEO to build on these achievements as solar and storage play an ever more important role at the heart of the UK's energy transformation."

The STA is seeking a replacement CEO with a proven background of achievement at Director level, including in the commercial sector.
The STA has a clear vision for the solar sector as it moves away from subsidised support. For the existing large-scale assets, the emphasis is on managing solar farms efficiently and responsibly to maximise returns. We are facilitating good working relationships with the network operators and influencing regulatory reforms to ensure the full benefits of solar and, increasingly storage are valued in the energy market. We are pressing for access to long term contracts which will stimulate new investment and allow consumers to benefit from continued falling costs of solar. The future of rooftop solar is bound up with the development of smart power systems and the increasing benefits of self-generation as energy storage becomes more affordable. The STA is focusing its work on ensuring that there is a level playing field so the benefits of solar and storage are fully available to commercial and domestic consumers. The STA is also focussed on educating and expanding new markets, including a forthcoming push with local government.

Background on the Solar Trade Association:
The mission of the Solar Trade Association is to empower the UK solar transformation. We are paving the way for solar to deliver the maximum possible share of UK energy by 2030 by enabling a bigger and better solar industry. We represent both solar heat and power, and have a proven track record of winning breakthroughs for solar PV and solar thermal.

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