Solar Commission Report

11 Jul 2019

Regen has run the Solar Commission, a project that has been set up as part of the UKERC Whole Systems Network Fund.

Innovation and falling costs are leading to solar power playing an increasing role in the energy system. The UK has considerable scientific, technical and business experience in solar power and including technology, power storage, control systems, financing, and power purchase arrangements.

The role of the Commission has been to stimulate new thinking and encourage collaboration between academics, industry and system operators on the role of solar power in the energy system. The Commission examined areas where the UK could use its scientific and technical capabilities to play a leading role in innovation and industrial strategy opportunities in solar power.

The Commission was formed of industry leaders, academics and others and the Commissioners were responsible for investigating the future role of solar power in the energy system, considering the UK’s areas of strength in research and innovation in solar.

The findings will be used to inform and influence decision makers and leading players in the UK energy system and have been published in a non technical briefing at the House of Lords on 9 July 2019. The project engaged new voices and maximise female representation through collaboration with Regen’s Entrepreneurial Women in Renewables initiative.

This report presents the conclusions of the Commission, setting out:

  • key areas of innovation in the solar PV value chain where the UK has competitive advantage.
  • the UK’s capabilities in these innovation areas.
  • recommendations for UK to capitalise on the global growth opportunity.

A key finding of the Commission is that the UK has strong capabilities in many of the disruptiveinnovations transforming the solar PV market. The UK’s strengths in areas like innovative solar celltechnologies, storage, information and communication technologies and finance have sometimesbeen obscured by a focus on China’s domination of the manufacture of current generation crystallinesolar PV panels.

The Commission’s overarching recommendation, therefore, is that government and industry should work together on a sector initiative that:

  • Recognises the role of solar PV as part of a smart, decentralised energy system.
  • Invests in the UK’s capabilities to play a key role in solar PV innovation across the value chain.
  • Secures business investment in solar PV in the UK.
  • Coordinates investment in innovation in solar PV with that in complementary technologies such as storage and digital technologies to maximise the value of public and private innovation spending.

View the final publication here.