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Roadmap to renewable energy

02 January 2013

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has welcomed the publication of the UK Renewables Roadmap. The Roadmap identifies the key renewable energy technologies that will enable the UK to fulfil its 2020 15% renewable energy target.

Generation from renewable electricity is expected to reach around 30% of UK electricity production by 2020. For the first time solar PV is now recognised as a key technology. Non-domestic solar now requires less support than many other renewable technologies.

The Roadmap does not set out the deployment pathways to 2020 by technology, as expected. However, the Roadmap announces that solar PV will have its own dedicated strategy next year, a move the STA has been calling for.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the STA, said: ‘‘The Renewables Roadmap shows that solar PV is now fully recognised as a significant contributor to the UK’s renewables mix. We’d go further and say solar PV will be a heavy-lifter in the UK’s broader energy mix. We’re going to be a lot cheaper than CCS and nuclear in the 2020’s. It’s therefore absolutely right that solar has its own dedicated strategy, as gas now has, and we look forward to working with DECC on this.‘‘

Several aspects of today’s Roadmap are welcomed by the solar industry:

· All sub-sectors of solar, including the role of the commercial sector will be covered in the solar strategy. The value of smaller scale projects is generally better recognised.

· Grid issues are identified as an area for action. The costs of some solar projects are unnecessarily increased by grid connection delays.

· Minimising investment risk for independent generators in the electricity markets is rightly identified as a priority action by DECC. The STA is concerned about the ability of independent generators to secure a decent market price for electricity under EMR.

The publication of the report marks a successful conclusion to prolonged efforts by the STA for recognition of solar PV, which the IPCC anticipate could be the biggest generator of power in the world by 2050. However, the Roadmap shows there is still work to do to explain to Government how vast the potential is for solar power:

· The STA strongly disputes the technical limits for solar power cited in the Roadmap. German engineers are already integrating far greater solar capacity into their networks.

· Solar needs to be compared to the retail price for electricity, not just levelised costs of other forms of energy. Most sub-sectors of solar compete with the retail price of electricity.

· The document refers to light intensity, demonstrating that although the UK has less sunshine, it has the same climate as countries like Germany which has already surpassed 20GW of installed capacity.

STA’s Head of External Affairs Leonie Greene said: “There are still some niggles with the understanding and presentation of solar PV, but this only serves to illustrate why it is essential that Government and industry work closely together. We are therefore very pleased that DECC recognises the value of further developing this working relationship in the Roadmap.”

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