2016 has been a challenging year for the UK renewable industries but also generally in the business markets due to a number of political outcomes and decisions which have created uncertainty across the globe.
Due to hard work and determination, and the fact that we have a highly experienced team, we have bucked the trend for the industry which at the start of the year was dealt a huge blow after the government decided to cut subsidies for installing solar PV panels by 65%.
Record number of installations
We have undertaken a record number of domestic and commercial projects and our enquiry levels are well up on last year. We were nominated for three very prestigious awards, and we are working on two European Union funded research projects. These are just a few of the highlights.
We truly believe it is the combination of our team and the fact we are the longest-established solar thermal manufacturer in Western Europe, and the only one in Scotland that has meant we have been able to forge ahead and continue to grow.
We have installed a record number of PV and thermal systems in 2016 including four schools ranging from 45 to 50KW PV installs, three police stations, a swimming pool and a recycling centre.
Large commercial to small domestic
The domestic market for us has also been buoyant. We have carried out a huge number of residential installs and these more personal jobs are just as much a pleasure to work on as the commercial projects.
It really is rewarding to finish a job and know the customer will start saving money immediately.
Research and innovation
2016 has also seen us be honoured with securing two EU-funded research projects. We are now working with other experts across Europe in researching the full potential of solar and it is clear to see that we have some of the leading solar thermal engineers in Europe to the benefit of the renewable and construction industries and all of our customers.
This will be an architect and designer’s dream as the reshaping and colouring of the panels will mean they can be created to meet specific design requirements.
Again this innovation is down to our experienced design team who love a challenge and always rise to them accordingly.
The new panels were also used by Solar Kingdom in their shortlisted project for the prestigious Solar Power Portal Awards. It was nominated for the Best Residential PV Project, and AES Solar manufactured two custom built panels that fit snugly into the roof hips.
In the Spring, Grant Feasey was selected as an Engineering finalist in the Young Professionals Green Energy Awards. The awards showcase the enormous range of young talent in the renewables industry.
Grant joined AES Solar as a graduate in 2011 and has worked his way up and is now the senior design engineer.
Grant was responsible for the successful development of the latest Solar Thermal product launched by AES Solar, called the AES Supremacy.
The AES Supremacy is an engineering triumph, managing to simultaneously be efficient, versatile and very attractive.
The first was with the Moray Chamber of Commerce where we ended up taking home the gong for SME of the Year at its annual business awards.
The second award nomination was for an installation handled by our team for Craigdon Mountain Sports at the Pentland Outdoor Centre in Edinburgh.
AES expanding in 2017
In-house there have been lots of developments too. Our big plans for 2017 are that we intend to expand our premises. It is in the very early stages and at the moment the ideas are with the architect. However, we have no doubt that they will include some element of solar – quite possibly our new custom-built range!
We are also delighted to have three modern apprentices working with the team, Investing in apprenticeships is vitally important to our company and having a steady stream of young, enthusiastic team members helps us achieve the company goals whilst also providing the individuals with a platform to begin and develop their chosen career paths.
Collaborative working is no new concept to AES Solar and this year we have cemented a number of partnerships throughout the renewables industry and we are under no doubt that collaborations with other installers, manufacturers and industry professionals will lead to a stronger AES Solar and a stronger renewables industry.
We are delighted to expand our professional service network by reaching out to IT service provider Dynamic Edge and marketing experts Chit Chat PR & Digital.
Dynamic Edge have been appointed to ensure we have seamless IT systems and support and also to make sure our system needs develop at the same pace as the company.
We are a vibrant company and there is a lot going on and handing over the IT and PR side of the business to Dynamic Edge and Chit Chat PR & Digital means we can get on with what we know best – solar!
Our fabulous relationship with Highland & Islands Enterprise has also continued and they have been tremendous in working alongside us to develop corporate strategies and establish programmes of training and continuous improvement with the aim of always being the market leaders.
So AES Solar is well and truly ending 2016 on a high. We have already put the groundwork in place that means 2017 will be a very positive year for us…
2017 – what’s next?
2017 is already off to a cracking start following the announcement just last week that the government had dropped plans to remove solar thermal from the Renewable Heat Incentive. This is huge news for the solar industry and can only mean that AES Solar is going to be even busier in 2017. In respect of government subsidies, the year has come full circle – starting on a low and ending on a high.
And we will be watching to see what the governments – both Scottish and Westminster have planned for this year. We expect big things. The Scottish Government’s Renewable Strategy will be interesting and we will wait with anticipation to see how Westminster reacts to that.
All of this coupled with developments in battery storage will make it a very interesting and vibrant year ahead. Battery storage will be a game changer for Solar PV taking it into the tariff-free world. We intend to be at the forefront of the development of the equipment and will watch the market closely in order to give our customers the best products and prices. We will without a doubt have the most experience when these products hit the mainstream market.
So it’s farewell to 2016 as we head towards a new year with another tremendous 12 months under our belts.