Government's New Solar Strategy targets Commercial and Community Roofs

Mar 5th 2015 -- Annette McGill

Energy Minister Greg Barker has announced plans to turn public buildings, schools, factories, and community buildings into "solar hubs".

The Minister was launching the Governments new strategy document on solar energy.  This includes a range of proposals which could make it easier for charities to install solar pv on their buildings.   

Barker said the Government wants to switch new solar installations away from large solar farms and instead "focus on opening up the solar market for the UK's estimated 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial rooftops".

 The document entitled  'UK Solar PV Strategy' says:

"We see the future for the industry in the UK centred primarily in two key markets:
- growing the momentum on deploying PV at smaller scale (typically smaller than 4 kWp, but up to 50 kWp) on and in housing, small commercial premises and community buildings; and

- increasing significantly mid-size deployment (larger than 50 kWp and up to 1 MWp), particularly on commercial and industrial buildings but also on larger public and community buildings."

The government will look at extending permitted development rights in England for building-mounted solar PV to rooftop systems up to 1 MW. A consultation document is to be issued this summer.

It says it will work with Ofgem and the solar industry to understand the issues that can lead to delays in getting solar pv installed. It aims to streamline and simplify the Renewables Obligation Order (ROO)-Feed In Tariff (FIT) process for all installations over 50kWp to speed up the application process for the FIT.

It will also encourage the 24,000 schools in England and Wales to install solar panels. Schools are estimated to spend £500 million on energy annually.

To highlight the fact that solar panels can be installed on all types of buildings, the the Strategy document features Bradford Cathedral This Grade I listed building has installed a 9.9 kWp system on its roof. The installation is part of the Church of England's declared aim to reduce its carbon footprint by 42 per cent by 2020.

The first part of the Solar PV Strategy was published in October 2013. You can see both strategy papers on the gov.uk website