Greg Barker promises to ‘mobilise the mid-scale solar market’ in 2014

Energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker, promised those attending the Solar Trade Association’s Solar Britain parliamentary event that more would be done to develop the “crucial” rooftop solar sector in the UK.

Delivering a wide-ranging speech on the state of solar in the UK, Greg Barker acknowledged that the government needs to work harder to address the current barriers that are hampering the growth of the domestic, mid-scale commercial roof and community generation sectors.

Talking about the current malaise surrounding the mid-scale solar sector, Barker said: “There is massive potential to turn our large buildings into power stations.

“There is a lot more we can do to drive deployment in that all-important mid-scale solar sector. If I see a challenge for 2014, it’s to mobilise that mid-scale solar market – that is what I really want to get my teeth into in 2014.

“I want to use that to drive my ambition of a challenge to the big six energy companies that doesn't come from one or two more competitors but actually comes from the creation of an energy sector of the big 60,000."

Barker continued: “The deployment statistics that we published in the solar roadmap in October are very informative and bear careful analysis.

“We had 1.6GW installed at small-scale – mostly domestic installations. We had close to 0.7GW of ground-mounted, but in the crucial medium-scale for industrial and commercial rooftops, we only had about 800MW and that’s not nearly good enough. Especially when you consider that it has been estimated that just 16% of industrial and commercial rooftops could realise my ambition of driving to 20GW.

“In order to address this very real challenge, 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.

“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.”

The minister also outlined his ambition for a new category of energy user, he said: “I want to turn consumers – whether they are domestic, commercial, industrial – into producers, so that we no longer have this binary choice between being a producer or a consumer: I want to see ‘prosumers’. And that’s where I see the UK leading the way in creating this new solar ‘prosumer’ revolution.”

Today was not the first time that the minister promised to address the barriers facing the mid-scale solar rooftop market. In April this year Barker told delegates at the Large-Scale Solar Conference that he would set up a small working group consisting of financers, developers and manufacturers to tackle the financial barriers facing the commercial rooftop solar sector.