Solar Taskforce highlights commercial building potential

The UK Government’s Solar Taskforce held its first meeting to discuss plans for affordable solar power, with a focus on using commercial buildings, schools, warehouses, and car parks.

Led by Energy Minister Graham Stuart and Solar Energy UK CEO Chris Hewett, the Taskforce aims to increase solar capacity nearly fivefold to 70GW by 2035 as part of the country’s broader clean energy strategy.

Stuart emphasised the potential of under-utilised rooftop space on car parks and supermarkets, stating that harnessing solar power from these areas could make a significant contribution to energy security, cost reduction, and job creation. He highlighted the importance of the Taskforce in cutting costs and overcoming barriers to solar power adoption.

He said: “This new dedicated Solar Taskforce will have a laser-like focus on cutting the costs and breaking down the barriers to harnessing the power of the sun in every way we can, all while using a small fraction of this country’s land.”

Chris Hewett, co-chair of the Taskforce, explained the benefits of rooftop solar power installations in terms of energy bill savings and the opportunity to sell excess power to the grid.

Hewett also stressed that the number of rooftop installations must double to meet the 70GW target, and the Taskforce aims to resolve challenges and maximize the benefits of solar energy.

He said: “Solar is the most popular form of power generation amongst the British public and consumer demand has never been higher, though the rate of rooftop installation must double to help hit 70GW by 2035. The number of solar farms will also have to increase significantly.”

The Taskforce discussed driving rooftop installations through enabling cost reductions for households and businesses. It also explored the potential collaboration between the solar and farming sectors to support energy security and food security goals.

Other plans discussed include publishing a solar roadmap in 2024, expanding the solar workforce, and identifying opportunities for UK businesses to export solar expertise globally.

The solar industry in the UK has been growing steadily, with over 99% of the country’s solar capacity installed since May 2010. In 2020, the industry supported 11,500 jobs, and the number is expected to increase. Smaller-scale rooftop installations reached a record-breaking rate in March 2023, with over 19,000 installations, surpassing the previous record set in 2011.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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