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The 2020s will see solar flourish

January 18 2021

Chris Hewett, Solar Energy UK

Solar energy in the UK has reached a tipping point for sustained growth over the rest of this decade. Our sector has shown great resilience throughout the pandemic and I firmly believe that by 2030 the UK will have at least 40GW of solar capacity installed. We will publish a report in early 2021 on how this vision can be achieved.

As the industry enters a new era, we are taking a new name and a new look to help us create those partnerships for industry growth. Our new identity, Solar Energy UK, reflects our diverse and growing membership of more than 230 companies. We will continue to represent and showcase the whole value chain of solar power, heat and storage.

Corporate and public sector energy procurement is helping to drive growth. Next year, we will be working with techUK to promote opportunities to their 800 member companies, as well as addressing the role of data technology, alongside working with other proactive sectors, including water, which has recently committed to deliver up to 3GW of onshore renewables by 2030.

This year will see solar projects compete in a CfD auction for the first time in six years, with the promise of more to come. This will further help stimulate the solar. Not all investors will rely on long-term contracts, however, the anticipated growth of flexibility markets will create other revenue streams for zero-carbon technologies including energy storage.

Solar plays a vital role in addressing the climate emergency, naturally, and there’s growing evidence of solar parks using good land management to create opportunities for nature recovery. We will be working closely with ecologists to promote best practice within our membership.

The residential market showed great resilience in 2020, and the combination of new building regulations and the extension of the Green Homes Grant to solar could drive significant growth. Our flagship research project in 2021 will collate evidence of how retrofitting a home with solar, energy storage and other zero-carbon technologies, can drive financial value.

We will also be doing more to engage the finance sector. In partnership with the Green Finance Institute, we will develop a confidence checklist for finance providers to help consumers manage the upfront investment to create smart solar home via green mortgages and other products.

In the 2010s, this industry needed Government support. The 2020s will see solar, energy storage and other renewables gain more independence and flourish. That is how Solar Energy UK, relaunching in advance of COP26 and a major year for climate action, will help the sector triple solar capacity to 40GW in a decade.