The UK government has launched its first ‘solar strategy’ – a route map for mushroom-growth in solar roof panels and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.
The new strategy follows the ‘Roadmap to a Brighter Future’ which was published in October last year. It aims to showcase how the UK is at the forefront of innovation in solar photo-voltaics (PV) and its importance in driving further cost reduction, meeting the challenges of balancing the electricity system, securing carbon lifecycle benefits, and identifying new financial models to help households invest.
Key milestones in the new solar road map include:
- A target of reaching one million solar homes in 2015, up from half a million at present
- Driving cost reductions, providing homes and businesses with a real alternative to buying ‘Big Six’ power;
- Repeat of the commitment to unlock the vast potential of mid- and large-scale roofs;
- Confirmation of the Minister’s ambition for 20GW of solar around 2020, and:
- Opening up 1GW on Government estate;
Paul Barwell, Chief Executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “Solar has not only been recognised by the UK government as a key UK technology, but now has its own dedicated strategy – the first in Europe.
“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.
“It’s a clever move by the UK Government to start strategising to maximise its stake in a global market estimated at $134 billion by 2020. With The Royal Society, the IPCC and even Shell anticipating solar could be the world’s biggest energy source, the UK needs to make the most of its R&D, product design and manufacturing skills to steal a march in the global clean energy race.”
The solar ‘roadmap’ confirmed that new solar installations will need to be appropriately sited, give proper weight to environmental considerations such as landscape, heritage and local amenity, and provide opportunities for communities to influence decisions that affect them.
UK Energy Minister Greg Barker said: “This ambitious strategy will place us right at the cutting edge – 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.”
“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.
“Solar increasingly offers efficient and cost effective onsite generation opportunities to both businesses and domestic consumers, and our strategy makes a step change in our ambition for both as a means to generate renewable energy.”
The British government now plans to install sun-power panels throughout the UK government estate.
Given the country’s predominantly grey weather, it is perhaps not surprising that there is – as yet – no similar Scottish sunshine power strategy – even though the amount of solar pv installed in Scotland rose by more than 20% in the year to December 2013, with enough now installed to power 22,000 homes.
However, a Scots renewable industry source commented: “Scotland may not be famous for its clear skies and sunny outlook, but technological advances and the falling price of solar power technology mean we should now be able to grasp the opportunities the sector presents.
“The UK Government’s Solar PV Strategy should be welcomed and we now look to the Scottish Government to set a similar objective for Scotland.”