Greg Barker opens BRE National Solar Centre in Cornwall

Energy Minister Greg Barker has officially opened The BRE National Solar Centre (NSC) in St Austell, Cornwall today, which aims to drive innovation, reduce costs and increase confidence in the marketplace through knowledge generation.

The centre has been created to provide industry led research, analysis and testing and training facilities “where industry experts and organisations can share knowledge, data and developments”.

It will also provide support for the development of future standards to increase quality of PV installations and the due diligence consultancy and testing for new build installations.

In addition, it will aim to help product development for building-integrated PV and other integrated approaches and provide direct support for Cornish small and medium enterprises.

Speaking at the official opening today, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “The new National Solar Centre, based in St Austell in Cornwall, will play a fundamental role in driving forward the solar industry here in the UK.

“Not only will work carried out by the Centre help to cut costs, improve efficiency and drive forward innovation in this sector, it will also help position the UK as a top destination for global investment in this exciting technology.

“The Coalition Government has finally put solar firmly on the map. Solar has a key part to play in our energy mix, and later this year we will be launching the UK’s first-ever Government solar strategy, to capitalise on growth so far and explore ways to take it even further,” he added.

Speaking at the launch of the Centre in January, Barker said that Solar PV will play an essential role in the UK’s energy future after coming through a ‘testing period’.

Barker backed the solar industry for its resilience over two challenging years that saw changes to subsidies and uncertainty for investors.

“As a whole the industry has come through this testing period and has certainly emerged leaner but also wiser, and in due course absolutely larger” said Barker.

However, the Government came under fire last year when The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was issued damages claims from five solar installation and construction companies over the Government’s apparent illegal cuts to feed-in tariffs in 2011.

Total demand for compensation of losses incurred by the cuts at the time was approximately £50m, up from the initial demand of £2.2m made in July.

The estimated value of today’s UK solar market is £1.5bn. The Government estimates that it will be worth £21.4bn By 2020.

Leigh Stringer

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