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The head of the newly formed New and Renewable Energy Centre (Narec), Tim Bruton, has made the claim that if every south facing home in the United Kingdom fitted solar panels, they would generate enough electricity to meet the country’s energy needs.

Speaking ahead of Solar Flair 2009, a conference to be held in Northumberland designed to highlight key issues regarding the take up of photovoltaic (PV) energy, Bruton gave his full backing to solar energy as a way of combating climate change.

With the north-east trying to put itself forward as a future leading light in solar PV expertise, Bruton is one of many academics from the region hoping to put the north of England on the PV map. As a fellow of the Institute of Physics and a reputation for insightful publications of articles relevant to the field of solar PV, Bruton asserted that the UK is on the ‘verge of something exciting’, commenting,

“The University of Northumbria carried out a study for the Department of Trade and Industry looking at the existing south-facing buildings in the UK”, adding,

“All we have to do is take the things we have already built and put solar panels on them and we can generate all the electricity we need.”

The claims made by Bruton have been made all the more possible with the announcement by the government that 2010 will see the introduction of the Clean Energy Cash Back Scheme, essentially a solar feed-in tariff (FIT) designed to attract investment in the new industry. The scheme would work by offering small scale solar energy producers guaranteed, premium rates for energy fed back in to the national grid.

The mechanism is designed as a way of off-setting the obvious initial costs of solar panel installation and where such FITs have been introduced elsewhere, they have proved to be very effective ways of nurturing fledgling renewable sectors offering returns on investments to investors which would otherwise have been impossible. Regarding a UK solar FIT, Bruton stated.

“If you look at what has happened in Germany, Spain and California where you have the right subsidy structure from the government, the market has taken off.”

Certainly, all involved in the UK solar industry will be hopeful that the government’s controversial tariff will be sufficient to see the fulfillment of Bruton’s prophecy in the coming years.

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