Solar Britain

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speech by Climate Change Minister Greg Barker at the PRASEG / STA Solar Britain event

Thank you to PRASEG for organising this excellent event in the House, and I am delighted to be here.

The Solar PV Industry has made fantastic progress in recent years.

  • We have seen huge deployment at all levels;

  • Prices have come down massively, and best of all;

  • UK has become a “go to” country for solar investment, placing us firmly in pole position to compete in the global race for green jobs and growth.

But more needs to be done:

  • We need to drive down costs further and achieve grid parity sooner;

  • We need to develop the crucial rooftop sector – turning UK rooftops into energy factories and consumers into producers or, rather, pro-sumers.

And we need to make the Government itself a leader in solar deployment.

Government public buildings should be at the forefront of the move to renewable energy.

So next year you can expect to hear more from me on my ambitious plans to ensure the government estate plays its part in the decentralised energy revolution.

The Government is sitting on huge potential; we need to do much more.

But as 2013 draws to a close, let’s not gloss over an extraordinary achievement.

Today the UK is close to a remarkable 3GW of deployed Solar PV.

  • 3GW almost exclusively installed by the Coalition.

  • 3GW that make the UK the most exciting growth market for solar in Europe.

  • 3GW which are building on professional, innovative and sustainable supply chains.

  • 3GW which are propelling the UK onto the global solar stage.

And I am delighted that the STA is backing my campaign to put solar PV on 1 million roofs.

I have two very simple messages for you today:

First, I want to make it well understood how firmly behind the Solar industry I am.

This government has put in place a package of measures which will drive long-term investment.

Second, I am launching a package of measures to bust the key barriers standing in the way of deployment on community projects and industrial rooftops and to drive my vision of an energy sector of the Big 60,000.

One of the highlights of my year was a visit to the Bentley factory in Crewe where more than 20,000 solar PV panels cover 3.45 hectares of roof space, at peak times generating up to 40% of their energy requirements.

But Bentley is but no means the only example of rooftop deployment.

Another really excellent project is the Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Birmingham. At 2.3MW, it is equivalent to three football pitches of roof-space, powering nearly 600 homes.

Impressively, over 200 Sainsbury’s stores are now generating solar power.

And we are putting in place the framework to drive even more investment.

I published my Solar PV Strategy Roadmap in October, and I will be publishing the full strategy in the spring.

Only last week we issued our Strike Prices for all technologies, including Solar PV, to 2018/19.

That puts us on track to deliver over 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020 – going from 20GW to 40GW of renewable capacity, and driving investment of £40 billion.

We have protected the budget for renewables of £7.6bn providing stability for investors

And on solar we can go still further on cost reduction: indeed the STA itself has said we can go further, faster.

So we will work with you to look at how we can do that – making sure we see continued deployment of solar while protecting consumers.


We must not lose the huge public support for solar with a few inappropriately sited monster solar panels.

This is a very real threat.

I am acutely aware of public concerns about large-scale solar farms.

I am determined to work with the industry to ensure that the inappropriate solar farms do not ruin it for the rest of the sector.

At the same time, I am clear that we have far more to do to the huge potential of industrial on-site, commercial and community generation.

There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations.

This year I spelt out my vision for a very different energy sector – The Big 60,000.

I want to unleash to genuinely challenge the Big 6 energy companies.

A vision where companies, communities, public sector and third sector organisations grab the opportunity to generate their own energy and start to export their excess on a competitive, commercial basis.

Where consumers of energy become pro-sumers.

I want to use technology, innovation and disruptive new entrants into the market to unleash a whole new generation of energy companies.

This is an ambition that happily unites the drive to get a better deal for hard pressed consumers with ambitions for a greener, more local energy sector.

I want to see industrial, commercial and community on-site generation at the heart of this.

The deployment statistics we published in the Solar Roadmap in October are informative.

We had 1.6GW installed at Small Scale, mostly domestic installation.

We had close to 0.7GW of ground mounted large scale, and growing, but in the crucial medium scale of industrial and commercial rooftops, we had only 0.1GW, and this is not good enough,

Especially, when you consider that is has been estimated that just 16% of commercial rooftops across this country could realise my ambition of 20GW.

So I am putting in place a comprehensive package to address the barriers to rooftop development and provide a much needed boost for the mid-scale sector…

To help drive mid-size deployment I want to sweep aside unnecessary regulatory barriers to the on-site generation.

And I am delighted that my officials have already begun work with the STA on a comprehensive set of measures to unleash the potential of the Mid-Size Sector.

So in conclusion, I want to reiterate my clear vision that PV is an essential aspect of the energy mix.

I am convinced we can work together to drive development onto more commercial and industrial roofs rather than on green field and to make this government a shining example to the world through its use of Solar PV.

We have managed to put ourselves among the world leaders on solar.

With the action I propose, we can stay there.