UK Rooftops to Become Solar Power Stations

Plans to turn the large public buildings, factories, supermarkets and commercial buildings into solar ‘power stations’ have been outlined in a new strategy by Energy Minister Greg Barker.

The Solar Strategy, the first of its kind in the UK, sets out the Government’s plan to see solar rolled out more widely and with it the potential to support tens of thousands of jobs.

Launching the Solar Strategy at SunSolar Energy in Birmingham last week, Energy Minister Greg Barker said:  “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.”

The Strategy seeks to strengthen the UK’s position in the booming global solar market, which is estimated at 46GW in 2014 by Deutsche Bank – a 50% increase on total installed global capacity.

STA Chief Executive, Paul Barwell, who contributed preliminary work on the Strategy said:  “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.”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.”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.  Key points of the Solar 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 public buildings;
  • 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 has led work to break open the mid-scale solar market and is holding an event on the 10th June to discuss mid-scale roofs.

In a further initiative, the Department for Education is working on an energy efficiency initiative across 22,000 UK schools to reduce their annual energy  spend of £500 million by encouraging deployment of PV on school roofs.

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