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STA to focus on mid-scale solar in 2014

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The Solar Trade Association (STA) says its focus in 2014 will be to work with The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to boost deployment in the mid-scale solar market.

Climate change minister Greg Barker revealed at the STA’s Solar Britain event last week that officials from his department were already working with the STA to unlock the potential of the ‘crucial’ non-domestic rooftop sector.

According to the STA, it has long argued that government intervention is needed because mid and large-scale roof installations are failing to take off significantly in the UK, yet commercial and industrial roofs dominate the European solar market. Despite some high profile commercial solar schemes, such as Sainsbury’s and Greggs, deployment on mid/large roofs is much lower than both domestic deployment and solar farms.

The STA has identified a range of non-financial barriers which are adding to costs and complexity and inhibiting investment. Even if growth were to take off, the tariff degression mechanism currently severely constrains the growth of all solar over just 50kW within the Feed-in Tariff scheme. The STA is keen to see the degression ‘capacity triggers’ greatly expanded to support strong growth in larger-scale solar roofs and community solar.

Leonie Greene, STA head of external affairs, said: “It makes no sense at all to constrain large-scale solar roofs when they are cheaper than other sustainable energy options. Solar on business and public sector premises is particularly efficient because power is generated during the day when it is needed. Large-scale solar roofs can quickly add up to utility-scale volume and they provide an entry point for new competition in the power markets to compete with established utilities. We’re delighted the Minister is moving to address this, but the devil will be in the detail.”