Today marks the third Solar Independence Day, a UK-wide celebration of solar energy. Solar industry professionals, organisations, and supporters across the nation will mark the occasion by posting photos with the hashtag #SolarIndependence.
The Solar Trade Association (STA) has also launched its new innovative scheme which aims to raise standards in the maintenance of large-scale rooftop and ground mounted solar systems.
It is estimated that the UK now has almost 12GW of solar PV, across homes, offices, schools, warehouses and on solar farms. This is enough to power the equivalent of 3.8million homes and new analysis by MyGridGB for the Solar Trade Association has shown that solar generation peaked early last month at 23.9% of UK electricity demand – a new record for the UK.
According to the latest statistics, there are currently just over 800,000 homes with solar PV and 200,000 with solar thermal, which means that the UK now has just over 1million solar homes.
Raising standards in solar operations & maintenance
The Solar Trade Association is keen to raise awareness of the fact that good quality operation and maintenance (O&M) of commercial solar rooftops and solar farms is essential to ensuring their performance, longevity and safe working condition. The body wants to ensure that the sector goes beyond minimum standards and establishes best practice to raise the bar in this sector, and is today launching its new initiative Raising Standards in Solar PV Operations and Maintenance. This builds on the work that EU-level body SolarPower Europe has done in its own O&M Best Practice Guidelines.
Mark Turner, Chair of the Solar Trade Association Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Working Group and Managing Director of Lightsource Renewable Energy, said: “With this initiative we want to raise standards and establish best practice across the UK in solar PV operations and maintenance, making sure people are aware that preventative action can avoid costly corrective action later. Solar PV plants have no moving parts but are power plants like any other, and therefore safety has to be our primary concern.”
Solar Independence Day 2016
Today also marks the Solar Trade Association’s annual Solar Independence Day celebration. The trade body is keen to highlight how solar can protect homeowners and businesses from volatile energy prices by reducing bills, can reduce the need for energy imports and, if the technology is given stable support, deliver future independence from subsidy.
Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, said: “The UK has successfully deployed almost 12GW of solar across the UK, providing nearly 25% during peak generation. This is what the country and the world needs to decarbonise the energy sector at the lowest price to the consumer. The Government’s adoption of the fifth carbon budget is a good long term signal in this regard.”
“Solar Independence Day is about celebrating what a large group of small and medium sized businesses can achieve in a short period of time. We now need just one more push from the Government to help the solar sector reach its objective of zero subsidy by the early 2020s.”
The UK solar industry is going through a difficult time at the moment, re-adjusting and re-calibrating after the massive changes in the support framework for solar earlier this year. The STA is working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and has put forward a number of minor changes that could help stimulate the market.
The Solar Trade Association will shortly be publishing the results of its State of the Solar Industry Survey, which it conducted in conjunction with PwC. Later this year the body will also be setting out its key policy asks to help support solar PV in the near and medium term.