National strategy gives solar a brighter future

The Government published its new Solar Strategy earlier this month, with a commitment to supporting the roll-out of solar installations on private and public sector buildings across the UK.
Administered by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the policy statement is the first of its kind in the EU and it is designed to support the UK’s commitment to sourcing 20 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020.
The plan is to establish more ‘solar hubs’ on public and private sector rooftops, shifting the focus away from large solar farms, towards more small and medium-sized commercial installations.
The strategy includes a goal to generate 20 Giga-Watts (GW) of electricity from solar power by 2020, an increase of 17.3GW on current capacity. 
The Government already has plans to install 1GW of capacity on public buildings, and it intends to double the number of installations on domestic buildings by 2015.
‘Massive potential’
Energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker, said: “There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy as part of our long term economic plan.
“Solar not only benefits the environment, it will see British job creation and deliver the clean and reliable energy supplies that the country needs at the lowest possible cost to consumers”.
‘Natural default’
Among the plans to encourage private business uptake are proposals to make planning permission automatic for rooftop systems of up to one Mega-Watt (MW), and to introduce a new band within the current feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme, specifically for commercial rooftop installations.
Currently, solar systems on business rooftops account for 5 to 20 per cent of all UK installations, compared with over 50 per cent in Germany.
Barker said: “I want to make on-site generation the natural default for all UK businesses and solar is one of the most obvious technologies for any on-site generation to start with.
“We want to move the emphasis for growth away from large solar farms and instead focus on opening up the solar market for the UK’s estimated 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial rooftops”.

‘Key UK technology’
The new Government strategy comes hot on the heels of a McKinsey report, which found that solar energy generation is getting more cost-effective every year. Globally, installations have risen by 50 per cent a year since 2006.
Paul Barwell, spokesperson for the Solar Trade Association, said: “Solar has not only been recognised by DECC as a key UK technology, but now has its own dedicated strategy.
“Minister Greg Barker has championed solar power specifically because he knows it has the greatest potential to empower millions of people across the UK with low cost green energy. Solar will also provide thousands of good quality local jobs”.
The full solar power strategy can be downloaded here. It is made up of two documents, Roadmap to a Brighter Future and Delivering a Brighter Future.

Posted under Environmental Regulations and Legislation, Environmental Technologies and Renewable Energy, Construction, Energy and Renewables and Public / Government / Charity on 15 April 2014