Government sets out plans for ‘solar hubs’



The government has set out plans to turn factories, supermarkets and car parks into ‘solar hubs’ in its new Solar Strategy. In a report, the government describes the potential benefits solar power can bring to the UK economy.

The government said it wants to move the emphasis for growth in the market away from large solar farms. Instead, it intends to focus on the UK’s estimated 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial rooftops.

Energy minister Greg Barker said, “We have put ourselves among the world leaders on solar and this ambitious strategy will place us right at the cutting edge.

“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.”

The strategy, which is the first of its kind in the UK, added that widespread solar will ensure a “better deal for hard pressed consumers” as well as helping the UK move towards a greener, more localised energy sector.

Barker added that as well as benefitting the environment; the solar strategy could lead to the creation of British jobs and deliver clean and reliable energy supplies across the country. The cost of solar has been gradually dropping, making it an increasingly attractive investment prospect for both consumers and businesses.

Globally the market has been booming and Deutsche Bank has predicted that global solar capacity will increase by 50% in 2014.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA), commented, “Solar has not only been recognised by [the Department of Energy and Climate Change] as a key UK technology, but now has its own dedicated strategy – the first in Europe.

“Minister Greg Barker has championed solar power specifically because he knows it has the greatest potential to empower millions of people across the UK with low-cost green energy.”

He added, “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.”

Renewable energy crowdfunding platform Abundance Generation has welcomed the announcement and said it is the “right way to go” and could drive investment in the industry.

Karl Harder, co-founder and managing director of Abundance Generation, said, “We fundamentally believe that the UK can be powered 100% by renewable energy by 2040. But to deliver the clean power at the speed we need, policy thinking must be joined up and amplify, not hinder, the demand for renewables in the UK.

“There is a very real demand for positive investment in renewable energy, as people realise making a return doesn’t mean compromising their children’s future. Truly effective policy making amplifies this appetite.”

Campaign group Friends of the Earth has also welcomed the announcement but called for the government to go further and faster. The organisation has urged the government to remove red tape preventing more community-scale solar projects.

Photo: Abundance Generation via Flickr

Further reading:

Domestic solar panels as an investment

One million African homes now powered by solar

Solar panels now on nearly 500,000 rooftops across the UK

Nottingham solar project raises £500,000 in less than a month

Scottish solar industry reaches ‘significant’ 100MW milestone


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