The UK celebrates 'Solar Independence Day' with news of a new PV generation peak

While the post-Brexit referendum dust swirls around the U.K. amid rising political chaos, the country’s solar association, STA, is celebrating the third annual Solar Independence Day. The U.K. solar industry hasn’t had a lot to celebrate in 2016, as the government reduced its support for solar installations; however this year’s event comes with news of a new peak solar generation record and an initiative to improve performance and longevity of solar systems.

As part of the festivities, STA is encouraging people all over the country to post pictures online of solar systems, with the hashtag #SolarIndependence. STA wants to use the day to highlight the benefits of solar energy and to show how it can protect consumers from volatile energy prices.

“Solar Independence Day is about celebrating what a large group of small and medium sized businesses can achieve in a short period of time, said Solar Trade Association CEO Paul Barwell. “We now need just one more push from the Government to help the solar sector reach its objective of zero subsidy by the early 2020s.”

New peak generation

STA complimented the day with news that there was a new PV generation peak in the U.K. early last month. The new record was 23.9% of the total of the U.K.’s electricity demand. This was achieved with an estimated 12 GW of solar installed across all platforms in the U.K., which includes over 1 million homes with some sort of solar installed.

“The U.K. has successfully deployed almost 12 GW of solar across the U.K., providing nearly 25% during peak generation,” continued Barwell. “This is what the country and the world needs to decarbonize the energy sector at the lowest price to consumer.”

Although this is positive news, it comes during a hard year for solar in the U.K. as the government cut back its subsidy support for solar installations. In addition to this, the government recently reduced its PV installation target for 2020 from 20 GW to just 13 GW. However, last week it did announce that it will adopt the U.K.’s fifth carbon budget, requiring a 57% reduction in emissions by 2032 from 1990 levels.

To keep PV technology ahead of the curve, STA has also launched an initiative to raise standards in the operation and maintenance of solar systems. The Raising Standards in Solar PV Operations and Maintenance initiative draws from the EU-level guidelines from SolarPower Europe, making sure that there is a focus on going beyond minimum standards, to ensuring higher performance and longevity of solar systems.

“With this initiative we want to raise standards and establish best practice across the U.K. in solar PV operations and maintenance, making sure people are aware that preventative action can avoid costly corrective action later,” said Chair of STA Operations and Maintenance Working Group Mark Turner. “Solar PV plants have no moving parts but are power plants like any other, and therefore safety has to be our primary concern.”