Solar panels recognised as ‘key’ for UK energy future: DECC

by James Martin II on January 4, 2013

Solar panels sun and clouds

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has dubbed solar photovoltaics (PV) a ‘key technology’ in the UK’s future power mix in its updated Renewable Energy Roadmap released at the end of December 2012. DECC’s official recognition of solar power’s importance here has been a cause for celebration among those in the solar industry as well as those who have made choice to invest in solar in the UK. The news comes after a year of unprecedented growth and falling costs for installed solar PV system capacity across the country.

The DECC could apparently no longer ignore the phenomenal and sudden expansion in the UK’s solar industry. Driven mainly by the UK’s feed-in tariff and the falling cost of PV technology, solar power has begun to find its place in UK homes and businesses, with installed solar PV capacity increasing 5-fold in the space of a year. According to the DECC update report:

Solar photovoltaics (solar PV) recorded the highest growth with a five and a half times increase in capacity to 1.4GW by the end of June 2012 compared to June 2011. Solar PV is now identified as a key technology in this Renewable Energy Roadmap Update (the Update) as costs have fallen dramatically and deployment increased markedly.

DECC has projected that UK installed solar capacity could grow to as much as 22 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 provided incentive and market conditions are accommodating. Utility and electricity network companies, however, will be need to change in order to handle the new decentralised generation capacity, which unlike conventional power plants cannot be ramped up and down at will. To help solar PV grow smoothly and in anticipation of the changes that such levels of solar PV will require, DECC will be publishing a Solar Strategy in early 2013.

The Strategy will reflect both government and industry perspectives as to the main challenges facing the deployment of solar PV. It will consider the scope for small-scale, community-owned, commercial and utility scale deployment in the UK and identify the barriers to growth that need to be addressed in each case. It will also consider how industry needs to secure cost reductions over time, and how this can best be monitored to inform the UK’s overall strategy, helping to set out the potential for economic benefit for the UK from industry growth.

The UK’s Solar Trade Association (STA) has welcomed the news of solar PV’s inclusion in the roadmap with open arms, especially in light of the erratic feed-in tariff policy changes that had been both a boon and a plague to the UK’s solar industry.

The Renewables Roadmap shows that solar PV is now fully recognised as a significant contributor to the UK’s renewables mix. … We’d go further and say solar PV will be a heavy-lifter in the UK’s broader energy mix.  We’re going to be a lot cheaper than CCS [carbon capture and storage] and nuclear in the 2020s.  It’s therefore absolutely right that solar has its own dedicated strategy, as gas now has, and we look forward to working with DECC on this. 

Thinking about going solar? Compare solar installers anywhere in the UK for free. Fill out the Solar Quote Comparison form to the right of this page or get in touch with a Solar Selections team member today.

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