STA celebrates Europe's first dedicated solar power strategy

UK goes for one million solar homes ----- UK seeks to strengthen position in booming global market

The UK Government has today published the first dedicated Solar Strategy of any EU Government. The Strategy seeks to strengthen the UK's position in the booming global solar market, which is estimated at a massive ~46GW in 2014 by Deutsche Bank [1] – a 50% increase on total installed global capacity.

The Strategy was co-chaired by STA PV Specialist Ray Noble and the Engagement Task Force, which fed into the Strategy, was chaired by STA Chief Executive Paul Barwell.

Paul Barwell said:

"Solar has not only been recognised by DECC 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 [2]. With The Royal Society, the IPCC and even Shell [3] 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 industry couldn't be keener to work with DECC to realise the benefits of solar power for householders and for UK plc."

Ray Noble said:

"The hard work has now been done in pulling together all of the facts, ensuring that everyone understand the issues, identifying barriers to future growth, and ensuring that the benefits of solar are fully understood. The Solar Strategy gives a clear signal that solar in the UK makes total sense. We still have work to do in developing solutions to some of the barriers but, working with Government, these will be sorted during 2014. The message to the solar industry is full speed ahead and the message to the Minister is that we will achieve your ambition of 20GW."

Three years ago the UK had only a few thousand solar roofs. Today the STA estimates that around 4GW of solar has been installed, powering the equivalent of 1.2 million homes. Highlights of today's Strategy include:

A target of reaching one million solar homes in 2015, up from half a million today;

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;

Opening up 1GW on Government estate;

Work with BIS to increase economic opportunities for UK plc in solar, building on UK innovation leads;

A new industry collaboration on building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV);

Inclusion of the STA's 10 Commitments for responsible solar farm developments and biodiversity guidance;

Addressing removal of grid barriers that prevent the expansion of solar.

The STA welcomes all the detailed action points that are part of the Strategy. The STA has led work to break open the mid-scale solar market and is holding a dedicated event on the 10th June, which will discuss barriers, solutions and best practice for mid-scale roofs. The STA is also jointly launching biodiversity best practice guidance at Kew Gardens on the 28th of April.

Paul Barwell added:

"The Strategy is an excellent start. We are pleased to say we have already started work to target growth in the mid-scale market and there is huge interest amongst our membership. The Strategy makes clear DECC want this market to grow over the next few years, so it will be key to change the Feed-in Tariff reduction triggers and the upper tariff band to enable this. We can fix the barriers, but the policy framework must allow the growth we all want to see.

"We also welcome recognition in the Strategy that large-scale solar farms can be done well. Solar farm developers are SMEs, diversifying ownership and competition in our consolidated electricity markets, so they have an important role to play. The responsible industry recognises that schemes must be done sensitively, must engage local communities, and must not displace agricultural production. Solar farms typically take up only 5% of the land they are on leaving exciting potential for boosting British biodiversity in a protected space."

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