BRE launches National Solar Centre

The National Solar Centre will open in April and be based in St Austall, Cornwall, BRE has announced.

With funding from the EU and support from Cornwall Council and DECC, the BRE National Solar Centre aims to drive innovation, cost reduction and confidence in the sector.

The St Austall location was chosen because the large amount of PV arrays installed in the area (55,577) and its high levels of irradiance. Cornwall offers more sunshine than any other UK county and has the infrastructure and business environment needed to push the sector forward.

Speaking at the launch event, climate change minister Greg Barker said: “Solar is an exciting and rapidly growing clean, green source of power and has a valuable part to play in the UK’s energy mix. The new Cornwall based Centre will help drive down costs, improve efficiency, catalyse growth, spur innovation and develop expertise on the ground.”

BRE director Nick Tune added: “We have a real opportunity here to drive the uptake of solar PV. The Centre will help the sector deliver further reductions so PV can become competitive with other low-carbon electricity sources.”

BRE worked closely with the STA’s solar specialist Ray Noble to develop the centre. The trade body’s ceo, Paul Barwell, said: “This is great news for the UK solar industry, and very timely. Given the rapid growth of the industry in the past two years, there is a real need for an independent centre of information and expertise. The BRE is a well-established authority on the built environment and is very well placed to deliver this project. We are delighted that Ray Noble has been instrumental in the development of the Centre, and we are already in discussions with BRE on developing collaborative projects involving the Centre.”