Greg Barker Calls for More Commercial Rooftop Solar PV in Drive to Hit 20 GW

Author:GreenWise     Source:GreenWise     Click:385     Publish time:2013/10/10 16:07:35

Energy Minister Greg Barker today called for a major escalation of commercial rooftop solar as he set out an ambitious plan to reach 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic capacity by 2020.

Unveiling the Coalition’s new solar PV roadmap, Barker said he wanted five megawatt (MW) commercial solar installations to be the "norm not the exception". And he said, working with the solar industry, he wanted to double the central forecast from Government for 10 GW of solar capacity to be deployed by 2020.

"I think we can go faster and further," he told the Solar Energy UK conference in Birmingham. "I am on record as having a personal ambition to see 20 GW deployed by 2020. And I continue to believe that is possible."

"Sensitively-sited" solar

Today’s 'Roadmap to a Brighter Future’ sets out the Coalition’s vision for the future of solar PV in the UK, before the launch of the Government’s first ever Solar PV Strategy, due to be published next Spring. The roadmap confirms that new solar PV installations will need to be "sensitively-sited", giving greater weight to public opinion and wider environmental and visual impacts, such as landscape, heritage and local amenity.

"We have already strengthened the planning guidance to provide a stronger voice to communities affected by projects. And made it clear to planners that landscape, rural beauty and local feelings really matter. But I believe that by working with local communities and being sensitive to local concerns that solar energy has a strong future," Barker said.

Installed solar PV capacity in the UK has increased 25-fold since the end of 2010 to 2.4 GW at the end of June 2013. The public strongly supports solar, with the latest public opinion monitor from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showing the technology has 85 per cent acceptance – the highest of all renewables.

But the sitings of some large-scale ground solar installations have led to campaign groups forming against solar farm deployment – as has happened with onshore wind – and Barker said it would be a "grave mistake" for the solar industry to ignore this opposition.

"The sector must not allow a few large scale, inappropriately sighted developments to ruin it for everyone else," he said.

Commercial rooftop solar

Instead, he called on solar developers to focus most of their attention on on-site generation.


"Our latest stats show that British roofs now produce almost 1.7 GW, with more than 450,000 small-scale installations already in place. We could meet my 20 GW ambition if we used jut 16 per cent of UK commercial and industrial roof space," he said ahead of visiting a 5MW solar rooftop installation at the Bentley Motors in Crewe this afternoon.

Challenges ahead for solar

As well as land use, Barker said the industry needed to address other key challenges as solar grew, including reaching grid parity; reducing the emissions associated with producing solar panels; and scalability.

"We need to ensure that the National Grid and the DNOs have the capacity to handle large amounts of solar energy. We also want to explore what role energy storage can play," he said.

And he added that financial incentives for solar will also have to be looked at it to bring down the cost of energy policy.

Keywords:Greg Barker Calls for More Commercial Rooftop Solar PV in Drive to Hit 20 GW
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