BRE has launched the BRE National Solar Centre to offer a range of solar related services to industry, consumers and government agencies, from training to R&D to data collection.

BRE is working closely with the Solar Trade Association’s (STA’s) Solar PV specialist, Ray Noble, to develop the centre. STA CEO Paul Barwell, who attended the launch event, commented, “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.”

Solar PV was recently introduced to the government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap as a ‘key technology’. The STA is confident that the policy framework is in place to allow PV to build on its significant progress to date, and become a major player in the UK energy mix, as Paul Barwell explained, “Solar PV has seen dramatic cost reductions in recent years, making it one of the cheapest alternatives to power generation from fossil fuels. With stability under the Feed-in-Tariff and the RO out to 2015 and 2017 respectively, the framework is there for healthy expansion of the technology at all scales, from household roofs to on-site business and industrial applications through to the utility scale solar parks. The returns are there, the policy is stable, and now is a great time to invest.

“But price isn’t everything. Training, communications, development of standards, data aggregation and analysis – this is all equally vital if the UK is to fully realise the potential of solar PV and thermal technologies. Cornwall has been leading the way on solar, so it is fitting that this is where the centre will be located. We look forward to continuing our work with Cornwall Council, DECC, and now the BRE National Solar Centre, to ensure that the UK reaps the benefits of solar.”

Speaking at the launch of the BRE National Solar Centre, energy and 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 National Solar Centre will help drive down costs, improve efficiency, catalyse growth, spur innovation and develop expertise on the ground. We have seen dramatic reductions in costs of the technology over the past year and that’s why we have made changes to our incentives under Feed-in-Tariffs and the Renewables Obligation, to help put this industry on a more sustainable footing and ensure solar continues to thrive in the future.”