UK Solar Strategy - At a glance

James Murray
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From the goal of deploying 20GW of solar capacity to new plans for public sector buildings, we look at the main commitments from the government's new Solar Strategy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change today published the second part of its national solar strategy, Delivering a Brighter Future. Here are the main commitments:

Targets

  • A non-binding goal to install 20GW of solar capacity by 2020, up from around 2.7GW currently.
  • A goal to install 1GW of solar capacity on the public sector estate, with plans expected this year for the first 500MW of installations and Minister Greg Barker pledging to ensure "that not one inch of suitable Government roof space is wasted".

Initiatives

  • A commitment to "work with developers, commercial property owners, planning authorities, and the solar industry to cut red tape and sweep away barriers to making use of empty industrial spaces to provide the electricity we rely on every day".
  • A shift in focus away from large scale solar farms, which DECC has blamed for beginning to "erode the otherwise record levels of public acceptability the solar PV sector as a whole enjoys" and putting pressure on the Levy Control Framework budget.
  • The launch of a new initiative to encourage England and Wales' 24,000 schools to install solar arrays.

Innovation

  • A commitment to support solar technology and finance innovation on a number of fronts, including "third generation solar" innovations, such as thin film solar, solar glass, and building integrate solar, and smart grid technologies for managing power supply and demand. 
  • A decision to commission the Solar PV Strategy Group, over the next six months, to report on opportunities for reducing the overall costs of installation and deployment.

Policy reforms

  • A pledge that DECC and the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will work together to extend permitted development rights in England to cover building mounted systems with up to 1MW capacity, easing planning requirements for mid-sized arrays. DCLG is now expected to consult on the changes in the summer. 
  • A review of the feed-in tariff application process for installations of over 50kW to assess whether the process can be streamlined.

Collaboration

  • A commitment to work with the Solar Trade Association to promote its recently published 10 Commitments to help ensure solar farm developments are in line with best practices and do not negatively impact biodiversity.
  • A pledge to work with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), and the Foreign Office to maximise solar technology exports.
  • A move to work with the solar industry to encourage the recruitment of greater numbers of women.
  • A commitment to work with the Solar PV Grid Task Force to assess solar PV connection costs and waiting times, and review whether steps can be taken to speed up grid connections.
  • A move to work with the Solar PV Innovation Task Force to encourage UK solar companies to adopt carbon lifecycle accreditation and identify ways to cut solar's carbon footprint across its supply chain.

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