Energy Minister Greg Barker officially opened a new national solar centre (NSC) in Cornwall today.
The town of St Austell was picked as home for the centre because most of the UK’s solar PV installations are found in South West England with around 56,000 installations in the region. Cornwall itself offers the most sunshine hours of any county in the UK.
The BRE National Solar Centre will host research, analysis and testing and training facilities, working with local partners such as the Eden Project, Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust, Plymouth University, and Exeter University.
Today’s UK solar market is valued by some at £1.5bn and estimates suggest this could rise to £24.1bn by 2020.
Speaking at the launch, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the NSC would push forward the nation’s growing solar industry: “Not only will work carried out by the Centre help to cut costs, improve efficiency and drive forward innovation in this sector, it will also help position the UK as a top destination for global investment in this exciting technology.”
He also claimed the Coalition Government has “finally put solar on the map”, adding that later this year the Government will launch its first-ever solar strategy.
His comments may raise eyebrows in some circles after last years’ solar subsidy fiasco when the Government tried to slash the feed-in Tariffs so severely it was taken to court by a group of solar firms. Judges ruled the surprise cuts were “unlawful” and the Government now has to give industry ample warning of subsidy changes. Solar firms and DECC appear to have patched up their differences now.