Britain to Provide Support for Training in Solar Electric

The British government has pledged to provide strong support for the use of solar photovoltaics in that country.

LONDON, UK, 2001-03-20 <> A white paper released last month by the Department of Trade & Industry, entitled ‘Enterprise Skills and Innovations: Opportunities for all in a World of Change,’ outlines the steps that government and business must take to secure economic success in the decade ahead. “We will embark on a major initiatives with industry and others to achieve a UK solar photovoltaic demonstration programme in line with those of our main competitors,” it explains. The program “will establish the UK as a credible player in the PV market, alongside Germany (100,000 roofs by 2007) and Japan (70,000 roofs by 2002).” The budget will be £10 million for the first three years, according to the British Photovoltaic Association. There is no target number of PV roofs, but “the equivalent of several thousand homes are expected,” say officials. The £10 million is not part of the £100 million in support for renewable energy that was announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair on March 6. “Climate change is a worldwide environmental threat (with) both global and local implications,” says the white paper. “Tackling the causes of climate change will require action across national economies.” Britain will set up joint government business initiatives spearheaded by the Carbon Trust that was announced last October and which has initial funding of £50 million per year. “By supporting renewable energy in the UK, we can also ensure that British industry is well placed to exploit the growing global demand for renewable energy technology,” it explains. “Solar photovoltaic systems are a renewable energy form with enormous potential. Their current contribution to energy supplies is small, but growing rapidly with the aid of substantial support and investment around the world.” The program will be subject to approval by the European Commission, and will encourage research and manufacturing investment in the “innovative thin-film technologies which have greater potential for cost-reduction than existing technologies, thus giving them a lead in exploiting overseas markets as well.” “Social housing refurbishments will be one of the key target groups for this programme,” it continues. “We can use PV to help alleviate fuel poverty as well as helping us to achieve security of energy supply and environmental objectives.” “We also need to take advantage of the opportunities offered by market liberalisation, advances in technology and the development of renewable generation,” it continues. An industry working group has examined how the commercial and regulatory environment must adapt, and it published its report in January to recommend “a wide range of actions to encourage the development of renewable energy and combined heat and power, by enabling small scale generation to be connected to the local distribution network.” The group is holding consultation sessions on its report until this month, will then finalize its recommendations. The white paper was released by DTI secretary Stephen Byers and Education & Employment secretary David Blunkett.

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