The plan to install 1GW of solar on the government estate could leave a ‘legacy’ of quality, according to Ray Noble, co-chair of DECC’s solar strategy.

Speaking at the Solar Energy Systems Special Interest Group (SESSIG) launch event in Birmingham this week, Noble explained that the due diligence associated with government-contracted work means that the Cabinet Office “has to pick the highest quality products as possible while getting the best price possible”.

Noble told the crowd: “What’s actually happening is that phase one is about 250MW on building and 250MW on previously-used land. Projects vary in size and will spread around the country – the government is not just going to put them in one area.”

However, Noble explained that the government is viewing the project as an opportunity to help raise industry standards through a strict tender and installation process. Noble explained that all installers could be required to complete a training course in order to work on the government estate. In addition, the government is considering implementing inspections on all sites in contrast to the current MCS system of one inspection a year.

Noble added: “Government are trying to leave a legacy to the solar industry and then it will be encouraged that the public sector use the same sort of strategy. The thoughts are that, once the government and public sector start using it, the private side will follow suit. They are trying to grow the industry to a sustainable level and take out the cowboys that we have at the moment in places.”

Speaking to Solar Power Portal, a Cabinet Office spokesperson confirmed to Solar Power Portal that the initial phase of the project would see 500MW of generating capacity installed across the public sector estate.

The spokesperson continued: “As part of this government's long term economic plan, we are determined to drive efficiencies and make savings for taxpayers. Last year alone we saved £14.3 billion compared to spending before the last general election. But there's more to do, so we are using roof space from public sector buildings to generate electricity on site. This will reduce costs and increase the security of our energy supply.”