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UK: BRE National Solar Centre opens in Cornwall

The BRE National Solar Centre (NSC) was officially opened by Energy Minister Greg Barker in St Austell last week transforming the UK solar industry into a global player.

The NSC is a centre for excellence for the use of solar energy in the UK. It aims to drive innovation, cost reduction and increased confidence in the marketplace through knowledge generation. Working with local partners, including the Eden Project, Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust, Plymouth University, and Exeter University’s Tremough campus, the centre will provide industry led research, analysis and testing and training facilities where industry experts and organisations can share knowledge, data and developments.

The centre will also provide support for the development of future standards to increase quality of PV installations; due diligence consultancy and testing for new build installations; fault finding, verification and optimisation for existing systems; product development for building-integrated PV and other integrated approaches; direct support for Cornish small and medium enterprises and encouragement for inward investment to create a cluster of solar PV companies on the site.

“The Coalition Government has finally put solar firmly on the map,” said Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker. Later this year, he said, the UK’s first-ever Government solar strategy will be launched to capitalise on growth so far and explore ways to take it even further. The estimated value of today’s UK solar market is £1.5bn. By 2020 it is estimated that it will be worth £21.4 bn.

The new National Solar Centre “couldn’t come at a better or more important time”, said Barker. It will “play a fundamental role in driving forward the solar industry here in the UK. Not only will work carried out by the Centre help to cut costs, improve efficiency and drive forward innovation in this sector, it will also help position the UK as a top destination for global investment in this exciting technology”.

The NSC has received significant funding support from the European Regional Development fund (£870k over two years). Match funding has also been contributed by over 20 Founding Members, drawn from the leading players in UK solar industry. 

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity  •  Solar heating and cooling