The National Solar Centre (NSC) is to provide a new solar code of practice for ‘grid guidance’ to aid local authorities in deploying solar.
Solar specialist at NSC, Ray Noble, said there is a “window of opportunity” for local authorities to install community solar on public buildings, used land and commercial rooftops, but identified distribution network operators (DNOs) as an impediment to projects going ahead. The new grid guidelines are intended to assist local authorities make the most of solar opportunities by providing advice on connection issues.
Noble said government support for solar is set to continue until grid parity is reached. Noble predicted this would be around 2020 in the UK by which time up to 20GW could be installed depending on advances in storage and grid solutions.
Specialist consultant in local government and public sector renewables, Stephen Cirell said local authorities and governments have a “huge benefit in owning lots of buildings”, housing and land suitable for solar.
Cirell said social housing in particular “is not fully exploited” by local authorities as a solar opportunity.
Due to the renewable energy obligation, feed-in tariff and new contracts for difference government incentive mechanisms for solar installations, Cirell said local governments should focus on 5MW and less, as opposed to larger scale solar projects.
Cirell said this would help local governments to utilise multiple sites for solar installations as well as addressing community desires. Communities “want organic, bottom-up projects”, said Cirell, adding that smaller local authority solar projects will “help engage the public and help renewables at every level”.