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Solar Taskforce meets for the first time

Solar Taskforce meets for the first time. Image: Getty Images.

The UK solar sector has received a major boost with the UK Government announcing the first meeting of the new Solar Taskforce.

The Taskforce, which had first been introduced as part of the government’s ‘Energy Security Day’ package following calls for its creation in Chris Skidmore’s Independent Review of Net Zero report, will look to drive forward the necessary action that will be required to reach the pre-established target of 70GW solar power capacity by 2035.

According to the government, the Taskforce will run up to February 2024 with its key objectives including:

  • Strategic roadmap: assisting in the development of, and securing cross government and industry buy in to a UK roadmap for solar setting out a clear step by step deployment trajectory to achieve up to 70GW of solar by 2035
  • Taking action: government and industry working together to identify and drive forward processes and measures to unlock deployment
  • Securing investment and value for money: as the sector grows, put in place structures to facilitate continued progress on cost reduction and ensure investment in UK supply chains, jobs, skills, innovation and infrastructure is enabled sustainably.

Crucially, the taskforce discussed the potential of publishing a solar roadmap in 2024 to drive forward the actions needed to deliver the UK’s ambition to increase solar capacity by nearly fivefold by 2035.

Commenting on the first meeting of the Taskforce, minister for energy security and net zero Graham Stuart said: “Households across the UK are already doing their bit to provide cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy sources with the solar panels on their roofs – but with acres of rooftop space on car parks and supermarkets in every community, we can be doing even more.

“This new dedicated Solar Taskforce will have a laser-like focus on cutting the costs and breaking down the barriers to harnessing the power of the sun in every way we can, all while using a small fraction of this country’s land.

“Doing so will make a significant contribution to boosting our energy security, cutting people’s bills and providing long-term jobs.”

Stuart and Chris Hewett, CEO of Solar Energy UK will operate as the joint chairs of the Taskforce with Sarah Redwood, department for energy security and net zero renewable electricity and Gemma Grimes, Solar Energy UK, operating as deputy chairs.

The chairs are also supported by a core membership of representatives from the solar industry. This includes Ben Fawcett (EDF Renewables), Alex DeSouza (Lightsource bp), Liz McFarlane (Segen), Mark Wakeford (EVO Energy), Adam Howard (UK Infrastructure Bank), Ross Grier (Next Energy Capital), Ian Rippin (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) and Lawrence Slade (Energy Networks Association).

“Installing rooftop solar power, whether at residential or commercial scale, is one of the best investments available, offering dramatic savings on energy bills and the opportunity to be paid for sending excess power to the grid. The benefits can also be greatly enhanced by adding a battery storage system,” said Hewett.

“Solar is the most popular form of power generation amongst the British public and consumer demand has never been higher, though the rate of rooftop installation must double to help hit 70GW by 2035. The number of solar farms will also have to increase significantly. I am delighted we now have industry leaders working directly with the Government to resolve the stumbling blocks and maximise the benefits that solar energy offers to the nation.”

Hewett also expressed the promise the new Taskforce could provide the solar sector in an exclusive article on Solar Power Portal. He said: “This is a significant opportunity to accelerate action and unlock structural barriers to our technology. We all know what they are and Solar Energy UK will be focused on delivering those changes.”

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.

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