Minister announces plans for solar

Published:  13 December, 2013

Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has praised the UK solar PV industry's progress in recent years, and outlined the Coalition's next steps towards a more solar-friendly future.

“The Solar PV Industry has made fantastic progress in recent years,” said Mr Barker yesterday, at the All-Party Parliamentary Renewable & Sustainable Energy Group’s (PRASEG) ‘Solar Britain – It’s Happening!’ event, sponsored by the Solar Trade Association (STA).

“We have seen huge deployment at all levels, prices have come down massively, and – best of all – the UK has become a ‘go-to’ country for solar investment, placing us firmly in pole position to compete in the global race for green jobs and growth.

“Today the UK is close to a remarkable 3GW of deployed solar PV – and I am delighted that the STA is backing my campaign to put solar PV on 1 million roofs.”

However, Mr Barker stressed the importance of keeping up the momentum. “We need to drive down costs further and achieve grid parity sooner,” he said. “We also need to develop the crucial rooftop sector, and make the government itself a leader in solar deployment. Government public buildings should be at the forefront of the move to renewable energy.”

He also addressed “public concerns” regarding solar. “We must not lose the huge public support for solar with a few inappropriately sited monster solar panels. This is a very real threat. I am determined to work with the industry to ensure that the inappropriate solar farms do not ruin it for the rest of the sector.

“At the same time, I am clear that we have far more to do to the huge potential of industrial on-site, commercial and community generation. There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations. This year I spelt out my vision for a very different energy sector: ‘The Big 60,000’. I want to genuinely challenge the ‘Big Six’ energy companies – a vision where companies, communities, public-sector and third-sector organisations grab the opportunity to generate their own energy and start to export their excess on a competitive, commercial basis.

“The deployment statistics we published in the Solar Roadmap in October are informative. We had 1.6GW installed at small-scale, mostly domestic installation. We had close to 0.7GW of ground-mounted large-scale, but in the crucial medium scale of industrial and commercial rooftops, we had only 0.1GW, and this is not good enough – so I am putting in place a comprehensive package to address the barriers to rooftop development.”

October’s Solar Roadmap covered what has been done to date and where further work is needed. The full strategy is set to be published in spring 2014.

Mr Barker concluded: “I am convinced we can work together to drive development onto more commercial and industrial roofs rather than on greenfield, and to make this government a shining example to the world through its use of Solar PV.”