Solar Energy UK
18 December 2023
Members of the UK’s solar and battery storage industry came together recently to celebrate their achievements over the year, foster collaboration, make new contacts and look forward to further growth in 2023.
“My thanks go to everyone attending tonight’s Winter Reception for making it such a success. It’s great to come together to reflect on members’ successes over 2023 and discuss what’s on the horizon,” said Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Chris Hewett.
“I am sure we can all agree that it has been an excellent year for the industry. We have seen record numbers of domestic installations and approval for the largest solar farm yet, EDF’s Longfield project, not to mention the huge policy win of working directly with Government to create the Solar Taskforce. We look forward to the delivery of its roadmap towards reaching 70GW by 2035, the publication of our Community Engagement Best Practice Guidance and the second edition of our biodiversity monitoring report next year,” he added.
The Winter Reception, held at The Conduit in Covent Garden, London, followed one of the association’s regular rooftop and utility-scale working group meetings for members. This discussed panel recycling, reporting on adaptation to climate change, the Smart Export Guarantee and other topics, plus updates from SEUK staff on the Solar Taskforce and Solar Stewardship Initiative.
Anesco CEO Hildagarde McCarville said: “Our congratulations go to SEUK on another fantastic event. With UK solar being such a dynamic and fast growth industry, this was a valuable opportunity to catch up with peers, knowledge-share and explore many of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today. Solar remains the most cost-effective solution for the UK’s energy transition and energy security. With a strong secured pipeline, we look forward to working alongside our customers, partners and suppliers, to further accelerate its deployment.”
Ben Atkinson, Head of Development for Solar & Battery at SSE Renewables, said: “Congratulations to Solar Energy UK on another fantastic evening at their winter reception. These events and the work Solar Energy UK do are invaluable, bringing together experts to share knowledge and experience that is helping to shape the UK’s solar industry today.
“Solar is one of the most cost-effective renewable energy technologies and at SSE Renewables we have a strong secured pipeline of solar projects we are progressing across the UK and Ireland which perfectly complement our existing portfolio of onshore and offshore wind, hydro and battery storage.”
By the end of the year, around 1.7GW of DC solar power generation capacity is expected to have been installed, according to Solar Media data, with a little under 200,000 smaller-scale rooftop installations, going by records from standards body MCS. Both figures would be post-subsidy annual records. [1,2]
As a partner in delivering Solar & Storage Live, the industry’s biggest event, we advised on the numerous items for the agenda, and proposed 150 speakers, among them Energy Security Minister Rt Hon Graham Stuart, Chris Skidmore MP and Dr Alan Whitehead MP, and spoke at or moderated 17 sessions. We also devised and ran the new Recruitment Zone. We look forward to the new Solar & Storage Live in London and returning to the NEC for Solar & Storage Live 2024 – even bigger and better than ever.
SEUK has also expanded its staffing, including Daroon Ramadani and Harvie Agnew in the policy team and Magdelena Miteva in the communications team, with further appointments expected next year. Funding for these new positions has come partly from our new sponsor members: EDF, GivEnergy, Lightsource BP, NextEnergy Group, RWE, Schroders Greencoat, Segen and SSE Renewables.
The year was littered with major policy wins. Highlights include:
- The launch of the Solar Taskforce, intended to light the way towards delivering the Government’s capacity target of 70 gigawatts. A series of sub-groups also opened, delivering unprecedented industry collaboration on grid access, supply chain, skills, communications and the rooftop market. The taskforce’s formation was recommended in Chris Skidmore MP’s Review of Net Zero, which called for a solar “revolution”.
- The launch of the Solar Stewardship Initiative, a solar-specific supply chain assurance scheme, intended to provide confidence in how, where and by whom solar products are manufactured.
- The Government opening consultations on the Future Homes Standard and Future Buildings Standard.
- The Scottish Government implementing a minimum goal of 4 gigawatts solar power by 2030, with an ambition to reach 6GW. This implies a tenfold increase in the number of solar panels installed across Scotland.
- The Treasury agreeing to remove VAT from retrofitted domestic battery storage systems.
- The solar industry securing over 1.9GW of Contracts for Difference in the fifth allocation round, while there was a significant rise in support was announced for the sixth round, due to be announced next year.
- The Autumn Statement containing many aspects of welcome to the solar and storage industry, including plans to cut grid connection times and reform for the Electricity Generators Levy.
- Ofgem being handed a net zero duty, via the new Energy Act. This should further stimulate investment in reinforcing the grid, alongside actions underway from the Energy Networks Association, Energy System Operator and grid operators themselves.
- Loosening of planning rules for rooftop installations.
- The publication of our first Solar Habitat report, demonstrating that solar farms can be wildlife havens. Its successor is due early next year.
- Ending lingering uncertainty after Liz Truss tried to ban solar farms last year.
On the media front, Solar Energy UK had a bigger presence and obtained more coverage for the industry than ever before. Only a tiny proportion was negative. We also went on the offensive against myths being perpetuated about the industry, securing a story in Private Eye, blogging on the subject for Green Alliance and discussing the topic at Solar & Storage Live.
About the event sponsors
Anesco is a market leader in renewable energy, offering a full suite of services, from the development to the design, delivery, maintenance and optimisation of solar and battery storage assets.
The company’s specialist team has been responsible for the development and construction of more than 140 solar farms and battery energy storage facilities to date, totalling more than 1GW, while its operations and maintenance service has over 25,000 sites, with a combined capacity of 1.6GW, under its care.
Headquartered in Reading, Anesco is rapidly expanding its footprint across mainland Europe, including a growing presence within Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, having a development pipeline of over 7GW.
SSE Renewables is a leading developer and operator of renewable energy generation, headquartered in the UK and Ireland, with a growing presence internationally. Part of the FTSE-listed SSE plc, it is acting as part of SSE’s Net Zero Acceleration Programme to increase our installed renewable energy capacity to 9GW by 2027, and over 16GW by 2032.
It is committed to delivering the green energy the world needs now and, in the future, with a 15.1GW construction and development pipeline that includes 1.2GW of solar and battery storage.
SSE Renewables has honed its skills through over 15 years of delivering world-leading projects, with expertise in project design and optimisation, consenting and stakeholder engagement, financing, procurement, construction and operations.
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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Gareth Simkins, Senior Communications Adviser