New UK National Solar Centre launched by Climate Change Minister

The new solar centre in Cornwall will help industry and government to deliver on solar PV opportunities identified in the government’s Renewables Roadmap
New UK National Solar Centre launched by Climate Change Minister

The BRE facility in St Austell has been funded with help from the EU and is supported by Cornwall Council and the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). The recently published Renewables Roadmap will identify ways in which UK capacity can be increased from its current level of 1.4GW to a potential 20GW by 2020 and the new solar centre will help UK businesses and the government to realise such opportunities.  It will help to drive innovation in the sector, reduce costs and increase confidence in the market. It will also engage with organisations outside the sector in order to broaden the understanding of PV as a technology in order to maximise its potential and a particular focus will be the construction industry which needs to improve its knowledge of how to integrate PV into building projects.

“We have a real opportunity here to drive the uptake of solar PV” said BRE Director Nick Tune. “The sector has seen a dramatic reduction in installed costs by up to 50% from 2010-2012. The Centre will help the sector deliver further reductions so solar PV can become competitive with other low-carbon electricity sources. There are significant opportunities to support the development of Building Integrated PV products and the interaction of PV with commercial buildings.  We will also look at issues around smart grids, storage, power output prediction and more – all critical factors for improving the long term performance of the technology and creating confidence in its future.”

The solar centre will help to provide analysis, data collection and publications in order to create a full and authoritative knowledge base as well as an acting as an observatory for best practice both within the UK and internationally. The centre will also provide due diligence consultancy, testing for new build installations, fault finding, verification and optimisation and encouragement for inward investment.

“Solar is an exciting and rapidly growing clean, green source of power and has a valuable part to play in the UK’s energy mix” said Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, speaking at the launch of the centre. “The new Cornwall based National Solar Centre will help drive down costs, improve efficiency, catalyse growth, spur innovation and develop expertise on the ground. We have seen dramatic reductions in costs of the technology over the past year and that’s why we have made changes to our incentives under Feed-in-Tariffs and the Renewables Obligation, to help put this industry on a more sustainable footing and ensure solar continues to thrive in the future.”

A total of 55,577 installations have been made in South West England and so the St Austell site was a logical location for the new centre. Cornwall itself provides the most sunshine hours of any county in the UK and combined with an specific infrastructure and business environment the county will play a major role in helping to drive business in the sector forward. The centre will open officially in April 2013.

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