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What you need to know about the new UK Solar PV Strategy – Part 2

A closer look at the Principles outlined in Part 1: Principles One and Two.

In Part 1 we looked at the general outline of the objectives laid out by the Government for solar in the UK between now and 2020. This blog dives a little deeper into two of the four principles, why each one is important and what the next steps are to achieve the goals outlined in the strategy.

The government hopes to achieve 15% renewable energy by final consumption by 2020 and aims to decarbonise the economy in the long term. With solar combined with the other 7 key renewable energy technologies, the Government hopes to mix a cocktail of different technologies to achieve their goals. Here are the first two principles of the Solar PV strategy and the steps to take to become a decarbonised society.

Principle One: Support for solar PV should allow cost-effective projects to proceed and to make a cost-effective contribution to UK carbon emission objectives in the context of overall energy goals.


Cost-effective solar is a key element of the solar PV strategy and of other renewable technology policies. If the government is to achieve electrical security in the UK and decarbonise the country then the technology needs to be cost-effective and affordable. Homeowners need to be able to afford to install this technology if it is to be a success. Cost is one of the major challenges that the solar industry needs to overcome, particularly with installation costs for small and large-scale projects.

The situation now?

  • The cost of solar has declined steadily and, at times, quite dramatically over time. Studies have shown that the cost of solar has fallen by 50% since the beginning of the decade.
  • This being said, however, the cost of the basic materials for solar PV is high and the level of cost reduction that is reasonable to achieve grid parity is very uncertain, especially in countries with a more modest solar radiation like the UK.

Next steps?

Innovation and cost-effectiveness is the key to improving the performance and efficiency of solar panels that will in turn bring down the price. The UK has some well-established research and development activities in place that are focussed on the next generation technologies. An important part of the strategy is maximising the economic benefits of this technology in the UK. Right now most of the jobs have come from installation as the manufacturing of the panels happens abroad, but there are smaller manufacturers such as Sharp Solar in North Wales. Manufacturing and scale-up of new technologies often takes place at the point of invention creating jobs and products capable of profiting from wider global markets. The strength of research in the UK promises to be a platform for the UK to build on its lead in solar.

Principle Two: Support for solar PV should deliver genuine carbon reductions that help the UK to meet the target of 15% renewable energy from final consumption by 2020.


Solar PV and other renewable energy technologies can replace carbon intensive fuels from our electricity supply and help the UK to meet carbon emissions objectives. However, GHG emissions do occur at various stages of the process to convert a raw material or renewable energy source into energy.

What we already know?

The life cycle emissions for solar PV helps us to understand where key emissions occur and how they impact solar PV deployment in the UK. Life cycle analyses of solar PV have offered mixed results but the general consensus that the results rely on the type of panel, the climate conditions, the local conditions and the type of electricity input during manufacture. It is important to consider the varying methodologies associated with life cycle assessment of emissions, the impact they have on the outputs and the impact of the location of the PV cell and manufacturing.

Next steps?

There needs to be more research and study into the life cycle emissions that apply to solar PV in the UK especially in relation to where the solar panels are sourced.

Do you have any questions about the solar strategy principles so far? Ask them below or connect with us on Facebook and/or Twitter

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