Feeds

UK gov backs solar power projects

£2.2m from dwindling cash reserves

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

The government has allocated £2.2m of funding to solar energy projects, Energy Minister Stephen Timms announced today, but the solar power industry has called for more clarity about what will happen once the funding runs out.

The grants are the latest to be made from the government's major photovoltaics (PV) demonstration programme, a £25m fund established in 2002 to support use of solar power through to 2005. The fund is intended to support deployment both on a small scale in domestic use, and on a larger scale such as in housing development projects.

In total, 24 medium to large-scale projects will benefit, and the amount of solar power being funded is equivalent to the annual consumption of 160 households. Projects given grants include a Children's Hospice in Guildford, a large housing development in Huddersfield, a cemetery in Nottingham and a school on the Isle of Wight.

Although this sounds like quite a high spend for relatively few projects, solarcentury, one of the nine installers behind the chosen projects, explains that this is partly down to the nature of the projects the grant is intended to support.

"The point of the scheme is to encourage innovation," says Joy Green, a spokeswoman for solarcentury. "It is not just about spreading solar power. So projects will involve cutting edge materials, such as solar glazing, which are naturally more expensive that a simple system of solar roof tiles."

The current government grant backing for solar power runs out in 2005, Green says, and it is not altogether clear what will replace it. After this allocation, there are just two more rounds of funding left for larger projects, and the support for home installations will run out in the middle of 2005.

"The development programme has got some really positive results: more people are setting up businesses in solar power, and we are starting to see interest from major building developers. However, a lot of it is grant dependent, and if the government doesn't continue to support the industry, it will effectively be strangled at birth," she said.

She warns that although companies like solarcentury are likely to be able to ride out a cut in government funds, smaller players may not, which would hurt innovation.

"The government has to follow through on its promise," she says. "They have to decide whether they are serious about investing in renewables, or not."

The government has set a target of generating 10 per cent of the UK's energy demand from renewable sources by 2010. At the time of writing, the DTI was not available for comment. ®

Related stories

We have lift-off! The solar broadband airplane
Solar cells to power Iridium phones and more
Rawhide gets taste of the Wi-Fi cowboy

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.