Solar Energy UK has welcomed the formal opening of a Commons inquiry into solar technologies. Image: Getty.

Solar Energy UK has welcomed the formal opening of a Commons inquiry into solar technologies.

The Environmental Audit Committee has revealed it will investigate the role solar technologies and energy storage can play as the UK transitions towards net zero. These technologies have received multiple boosts from the government to spark innovation in the sector.

Alongside this, the Committee will also weigh up the regulatory, technical, development planning and other barriers to expanding both small and large-scale installations, alongside supply chain issues and grid connectivity.

“The Environmental Audit Committee’s opening of an inquiry into solar energy is most timely, given the rapid growth of the sector this year, a direct consequence of the energy price crisis,” said Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett.

“Even so, it is still being held back, particularly by both the lack of available connections to the grid and trained installers, potential solutions for which we will be discussing with the MPs.”

The inquiry is also expected to cover whether the sector has sufficient capacity to meet rapidly rising demand for solar panels on residential and commercial properties. This could be a crucial development for solar technologies in particular.

A recent study conducted by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) indicated that unused roofs on warehouses total 18,500 acres of land, which is currently unused for solar. This means the UK is missing out on 15GW of solar energy.

Should the inquiry showcase the potential for solar technologies in the commercial sector, further support could be provided via governmental legislation to integrate solar on various buildings. This is something that has been explored by the Scottish Government in recent weeks.

Solar Energy UK has also welcomed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s stance on renewable energy. Having previously been critical of solar energy and the “impact” it has on farmlands during the leadership contest with Liz Truss, he has supported the scaling of renewable technologies with his attendance announced for COP27. This could see further support for solar by the government.

“The Prime Minister’s decision to attend COP27 and emphasising the economic, energy security and carbon benefits of renewables is to be welcomed,” said Hewett.

“It also appears to signal that the new government has abandoned former Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena’s plans to sabotage the expansion of cheap power from solar farms, which would have been a disastrous policy. To settle investor concerns, however, we still need greater clarity from the top of government.”