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Solar production is vital to renewables future

Energy and climate change minister says solar power has greatly increased in popularity over the past three years

Solar energy has drastically increased in popularity in the past three years

The use of solar power in the expansion of renewables usage across the UK will be pivotal, according to Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.

Barker said that solar energy has gone through something of a boom period in the last few years, and this has seen photovoltaic (PV) installations increase 25-fold in the last three years.

This comes as the government reveals the solar power Roadmap to a Brighter Future, designed to show how the technology will have an effect on the move towards renewables further down the line.

Solar has ‘an important role to play’

Barker said the present government remains committed to the production of renewable energy for a green and reliable future, while still offering consumers the best possible prices.

It is here, he added, that solar power has a large role to play in making the uptake of renewables a reality. However, he said that it will be important moving forward to make sure any decisions made are responsible and have communities in mind.

“It’s a genuinely exciting energy technology which has already seen rapid growth and enjoys strong public support,” Barker explained.

“I want this growth to continue and to help us push further ahead in the global race – but new solar installations must be sensitive to public opinion and mindful of wider environmental and visual impacts.”

The Roadmap explained

The Roadmap to a Brighter Future released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) explains that there is still much the government can do to help make solar power a more desirable method for the future.

It outlines the fact that in the years between 2010 and 2012, the cost of solar installations decreased by approximately half, which encouraged uptake.

However, more still needs to be done to help the government meet targets. Barker said the target to reach solar installations with a combined capacity of 10GW by the year 2020 was not only achievable, but could also be surpassed.

At the moment, the UK has 2.4GW of solar installations, but the DECC is targeting 20GW within the next decade, a dream which Barker said cannot be achieved without cutting costs further.

In order to make this a reality, the government has set out four key steps. These include giving support for solar PV to allow cost-effective projects to proceed, and seeking assurances that solar can deliver genuine carbon reductions that help meet the UK’s target of 15% renewable energy from final consumption by 2020.

Other important factors the report seeks to bring in include making sure that any installation plans are considerate of environmental and aesthetic issues, and the challenges that can come from installing high volumes such as the strain this could put on the National Grid.

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