St. Austell to become UK national centre for solar power

We were up in London yesterday supporting BRE in launching the new National Solar Centre. As St. Austell’s primary renewable energy company, we are very excited that the town and the county are going to be at the centre of the UK solar industry.

BRE announced yesterday that the National Solar Centre will open in April.

“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 per cent 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.”

Boost for UK large-scale solar
The announcement comes on the same day as a new study predicts the UK will enter the global top 20 for cumulative solar capacity in 2013. The UK’s current large-scale solar capacity is negligible, but solar information resource Wiki-Solar predicts this figure could increase to one gigawatt (GW) by the end of 2013 due in a large part to the increase of Government subsidies for utility-scale solar projects.

“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,” commented Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker at the launch. “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.”

Business opportunities
Cornwall was chosen as location for the centre because the region receives more sunlight hours than any other county in the UK combined. Currently, there are 55,577 solar installations in the area and many believe that the launch will provide for many business opportunities in the growing solar industry.

As well as finding new ways to further reduce the cost of solar, the new centre will look opportunities around smart grids, storage, power output prediction, among other factors, said Tune.

Commenting on the planned opening, Solar Trade Association (STA) ceo Paul Barwell said: “This is great news for the UK solar industry, and very timely. Given the rapid growth of the industry in the past two years, there is a real need for an independent centre of information and expertise. The BRE is a well-established authority on the built environment and is very well placed to deliver this project. We are delighted that Ray Noble has been instrumental in the development of the centre, and we are already in discussions with BRE on developing collaborative projects involving the centre.”

The STA recently set up a large-scale solar group in order to accelerate solar PV development in the UK. The UK Government has a goal to increase solar capacity to 20 GW by 2020.

by Mark Smith

One Response to “St. Austell to become UK national centre for solar power”

  1. Bernie Wilde says:

    As an engineer who has several years of design and on-site experience of building solar PV arrays, I would like to hear more about your company.