BRE to develop National Solar Centre

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) is going to build a ‘National Solar Centre’ (NSC) in Cornwall in order to support the UK solar PV sector and help it reach 22GW of capacity by 2020. The centre will conduct research on design and installation techniques, performance and other factors relevant to the industry.

The National Solar Centre (NSC) will employ ten people initially and part of its role will be to establish constructive links with key figures and organisations within the industry including other research organisations and universities. The centre will also help to provide technical services and new standards to solar farm projects as well as getting involved in design, testing and integration of solar building (building integrated PV) components.

An application for European funding will be submitted in the very near future and a BRE Executive Board has already been established to supervise the project which is supported by Cornwall County Council who are understandably keen to promote the county as a centre for solar power and renewable energy. At the moment the UK has an installed PV capacity of 1.5GW having grown from 26MW in April 2010. In order to develop this further the NSC will be working with corporations, investors, construction companies, electricity networks, utilities, insurers, banks and landowners as well as dealing directly with the government.

Cornwall was chosen for the location of the NSC specifically because it has the highest level of solar radiation in the UK and is therefore strategically important to the sector. It already has one of the highest percentages of solar systems per capita alongside the highest quantity of solar farms in the country. Cornwall Council is already developing plans for a technology park, sited on a former china clay pit to the north of St Austell, which will provide office space and industrial workshops. The park could become part of the proposed Eco-bos Eco-communities development which may include space for around 10MW of solar PV.

The NSC will become an important part of the UK solar PV sector in the years to come and will help the sector to grow and thrive.

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