Solar Energy UK
6 July 2023
The government-industry Solar Taskforce moved one step closer to setting out its roadmap for 70GW of generation capacity by 2035 this week, by establishing four issue-specific sub-groups.
The main leadership group of the taskforce first met in May, chaired by Energy Minister Graham Stuart and Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Chris Hewett.
The role of this sub-group is to unlock regulatory and other challenges preventing timely and cost-effective grid connections. This concerns solar power at all scales: residential, commercial and industrial rooftop and utility-scale. The work of this group will align with existing initiatives led by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, Ofgem, National Grid ESO and network companies.
It is chaired by Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association, with Gemma Grimes, Solar Energy UK’s Director of Policy and Delivery, as vice-chair. Its membership includes, among others, representatives from Ofgem, UK Power Networks, National Grid ESO, National Grid Electricity Transmission, Regen, the National Farmers Union and Photon Energy.
Its priorities will be to reduce grid connection waiting times, improve connections management for battery storage systems and expand the network. The group also aims to improve the management of smaller-scale rooftop installations.
Led by the chair of EvoEnergy, Mark Wakeford, with Gemma Grimes again as vice-chair, the Skills Sub-group will identify how to develop and deliver the skills and training needed for the future solar workforce in both the short- and long-term. Its work will align with the government-industry Green Jobs Delivery Group and other initiatives where appropriate.
Participants include British Solar Renewables, the Energy and Utility Skills Partnership, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, Octopus, South Thames College (which delivers introductory solar courses under the Solar Skills London project), the National Open College Network, the Electrical Contractors’ Association and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, to name a few.
Key aims are to maintain and improve the quality of installations as the sector scales up, improving diversity and ensuring that young people, those changing career and those returning to the jobs market are aware of employment and training opportunities in solar energy and the skills needed for it.
The Rooftop Sub-group, the largest of the four, focuses on regulatory and other barriers to deploying commercial, industrial and domestic rooftop solar. Its remit includes selling power to the grid, public procurement, lowering upfront costs, raising public awareness of solar energy and securing appropriate planning rules and property regulation regimes. It is co-chaired by Tim Warham, Head of Established and Marine Technologies at the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero and Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK.
The membership of this group includes Eversheds Sutherland, the Local Government Association, Community Energy England, UK Infrastructure Bank, Octopus Energy, Gridserve and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. MCS, Eco2Solar, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors and the UK Green Building Council are also members, among others.
Supply Chain and Innovation
The role of this sub-group is to facilitate resilient, sustainable and innovative supply chains for deploying rooftop and ground-mount solar. This means mapping the existing domestic supply chain, exploring the potential for international collaboration to strengthen the UK industry, increasing the attractiveness of the UK market for investment and identifying export opportunities.
Chaired by Liz MacFarlane, director of Segen, with Chris Hewett as vice-chair, this group brings together organisations including the UK Infrastructure Bank, BEAMA, Solarport Systems, Tata Steel, MyEnergi, GivEnergy and PowerRoll.
All four sub-groups of the Taskforce will bring in senior civil servants from relevant government departments, alongside a range of external expert advisors, to attend discussions as required.
The work of the Taskforce is expected to conclude in February 2024.
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This press release was amended on 11 July to correct a series of errors concerning the membership of the sub-groups.
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