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A European First: UK Government Launches Solar Strategy

The UK government today announced its Solar Strategy, the first such strategic document dedicated to solar by any European Union government.

It will entail the creation of "solar hubs" whereby commercial and public sector buildings deploy solar arrays onsite, effectively shifting the focus of the market towards mid to large scale rooftop installations. It also reasserts the government's goal to deliver 20 GW of solar capacity by 2020 and sets out a new ambition to double the number of domestic rooftop solar arrays in the UK to one million homes by 2015.

The announcement made by Minister Greg Barker Solar Strategy at SunSolar Energy in Birmingham, is a statement of intent by the UK government that it is seeking to play a more influential role in the global solar sector market, estimated to be around 46 GW by analysis from Deutsche Bank.

That 46 GW represents a 50 percent increase in existing installed capacity.

Mr Barker said, “We have put ourselves among the world leaders on solar and 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.”

Ministers have also set a target of delivering 1 GW of capacity on public buildings by 2020 and will set out plans for the first 500 MW of installations later this year.

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

Mr Barwell said: “It’s a clever move by the UK Government to start strategising to maximise its stake in a global market estimated at $134bn 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.

Mr Noble said: “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."

Other highlights of the Strategy include plans to work with BIS to increase economic opportunities for UK plc in solar, building on UK innovation leads; new industry collaboration on building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and the addressing removal of grid barriers that prevent the expansion of solar.

The Strategy follows the “Roadmap to a Brighter Future” which was published last October. It looks to showcase how the UK is at the forefront of innovation in solar 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.

This article was originally published on Power Engineering International and was republished with permission.

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