Sustained government funding for solar innovation and clear vision for storage needed

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The government should provide sustained funding into solar innovation and set a clear vision for the role of flexibility in the energy system, according to a new report.

The report, produced by Regen-managed 'The Solar Commission' and funded by the UK Energy Research Centre, outlined a series of recommendations for how the government should support innovation in solar.

It recommended that the government focuses on developing the UK’s capabilities in next-generation solar technology by providing sustained funding for research and development. This would span research into materials and processes, focused work on novel PV devices and industry-led development for new applications.

The government should also support collaborative PV research within the UK into thin-film, as well as making innovation into solar panel design a key feature of a sector initiative and review how it can create market pull for next-generation solar through its purchasing power.

The report also detailed steps the government could make to support storage. These recommendations include giving investors a strong and sustained signal as to the value of storage by setting a clear vision for the role of flexibility in the electricity system.

And it recommended implementing in primary legislation the commitment made last month to provide a formal definition of storage.

Also called for was a reform of the Capacity Market to recognise the importance of speed and flexibility in responding to system challenges, as well as suggesting a broadening of the Industrial Strategy focus on storage to include investment in research and innovation in how storage can maximise the value of solar.

Kerry Hayes, project manager at Regen, said the role of the Commission was to stimulate new thinking and encourage collaboration and she is “delighted” to be launching the report.

It comes as part of a slew of industry reports this week, with the CCC issuing recommendations to the government in its 2019 Progress Report, including a call for a route to market for solar, and National Grid ESO laying out the role of solar in the next 30 years in its Future Energy Scenarios.