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Sea of Rooftop Solar Potential

10th September 2014

Industry comment by Rupert Higgin, TGE Group Managing Director
Once again, it’s all about to change.  As of 1st April 2015, and two years earlier than planned, the Government is pulling the plug on the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme for new solar farms with a capacity greater than five megawatts. 

The changes come in the wake of a period of sustained growth in ground-mounted solar PV which has seen deployment levels of over two gigawatts during the past two years, with recent returns scoring well above Government predictions. 

So what is the thinking behind the Government’s actions, and what will be the impact on the renewables industry?

The move forms part of the Government’s strategy to shift focus from large solar farms to instead concentrate on developing the potential of rooftop solar.  In the words of former Energy Minister, Greg Barker, “There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations and we must seize the opportunity this offers to boost our economy…”

We’ve always been great advocates of rooftop solar and it’s true that there is a massive potential in the 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial rooftops we have in the UK.  But the government could do more to support the better use of the south facing commercial roofs in this country. 

Admittedly, removing the requirement for planning for commercial installations over 50kWp is a small step in the right direction, but what about:

  1. Reinstating the full tariff rate for the 250kWp to 1MW banding
  2. Leading by example and making better use of the roofs of public sector/Government backed estates
  3. Putting pressure on the Distribution Network Operator companies (DNOs) to upgrade grids and improve connectivity

We’re doing our bit.  We have now secured the backing of Macquarie Lending to offer full funding to commercial organisations looking to install solar PV on their premises.  This presents a real opportunity for those looking to cost effectively benefit from solar savings.

There’s no doubt that better use of rooftops is one of the most simple and effective ways for businesses to save energy costs while boosting their environmental credentials.  Let’s hope the government also looks to support this initiative further as we all know that making some small changes, big benefits could be realised.

Tagged as: Solar Panels


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