If rooftop solar receives the right investment, its generation potential could rise to up to 117GW longer term, the study found. Image: Maria Godfrida (Pixabay).

An independent review commissioned by the Countryside Charity, CPRE, has found that installing solar PV modules on existing rooftops and other land such as car parks would provide at least 40-50GW of clean energy in England by 2035.

This potential could rise to up to 117GW longer term to 2050, if rooftop solar receives the right investment, the study continued.

These findings mean that decarbonising the grid will require much less land than previously feared.

The report – which asseses how the government’s 70GW national solar generation target for 2035 – added that prioritising rooftop solar would also gradually remove the need for additional large greenfield schemes.

To take advantage of the “near universal public support” for rooftop solar and unlock the technology's full potential, the report put forward six recommendations to the government:

  1. Develop a nation-wide rooftop solar target – the CPRE suggested a target of at least 40GW to ensure the wider solar 2035 target is met.
  2. Amend planning regulations and the Future Home Standard – to ensure: they include local authorities to co-operatively carry out audits for rooftops suitable for solar in their community; solar PV panels are a standard requirement for new builds; major external changes to existing buildings require full planning permissions unless brought up to the Future Homes Standards; and car parks require solar panels to gain planning permission.
  3. Introduce landscape framework for ground-mount solar – this includes introducing a land use framework and revisiting national and local planning policy.
  4. Provide financial support – develop a set of market-based actions to support the ‘rooftop revolution’ such as government backed low-cost loans and upgrades to the Smart Export Guarantee.
  5. Encourage community energy – update national planning and energy policies to incentivise community engagement to engage with renewable energy schemes.
  6. Distribution Network Operators invest in local grid capacity – working with Ofgem to better accommodate increased generation from solar and heat pumps.

“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it’s time that renewables are fitted as standard on all new development,” said Roger Mortlock, chief executive of CPRE.

“Homeowners expect it on new homes and it’s crazy to see massive new warehouses, with roofs the size of football pitches, waved through without any expectation they install rooftop solar.  The planning system is stuck in the fossil fuel age without a plan for net zero. The first step must be all new buildings and major renovations requiring solar panels as a condition of planning permission unless there are strong reasons not to.”

Solar Power Portal's publisher Solar Media will host the UK Solar Summit on 27-28 June 2023 in London. The event will explore UK’s new landscape for utility and rooftop solar, looking at the opportunities within a GW+ annual market, and much more. For more information, go to the website.