The UK solar industry has seen many fluctuations in its fortunes since 2010, particularly around the thorny subject of subsidies. It is probably fair to say, however, that Government attitudes appear to be changing.
The UK Solar PV Strategypromises a commitment to widespread use of mid-scale solar on the roofs of commercial and industrial buildings with Government role-modelling through the use of the public estate such as MoD buildings, schools, and hospitals.The stated aim(although some have questioned these figures)is to grow from 2.7GW now to 20GW by 2020.
Figures indicate that large-scale solar PV installations in the UK grew by 600% during 2013with ground-mounted installations accounting for over 90% of this. Costs are falling and there is an estimated 0.25 million hectares of south facing commercial roof space in the UK waiting to be used.
However, challenges remain:planning and its effects on deployment; issues around cost reduction; energy storage and grid connectivity; subsidies and non-portability of PV systems under the FiT; building regulations and design life; mechanical loading of roofs.
Ambitions are certainly high: can infrastructure and investment meet the challenge?
Debating the future of large scale solar in the UK will be our Expert Panel:
Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Advisor on Renewable Energy and Climate Change, National Farmers’ Union
James Armstrong,Partner at Bluefield Partners LLP
Jonathan Selwyn, Managing Director, Lark Energy
Ray Noble, Solar Photovoltaic Specialist Consultant, Solar Trade Association
Moderated by: Ian McCarlie,‚ÄãPartner, Pinsent Masons