HL Deb 27 September 2000 vol 616 cc161-2WA
Lord Judd

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their policy towards research into the conversion of solar radiation into electricity; and what resources they will devote to this in the next five years. [HL3765]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville

The Government believe that solar electricity, or photovoltaics, has considerable potential in the long-term, but is unlikely to make a significant contribution to UK electricity supplies in the short term. We are working with industry on increasing their competitiveness, and developing the technology, information and skills which will be needed in the future.

The Department of Trade and Industry has had a solar energy R&D programme for a number of years, as part of the new and Renewable Energy Programme. This has supported a wide range of projects including examination of such issues as standards, grid-connection and architectural integration, and the production of studies on design, installation and monitoring. The budget for the Solar Photovolataics Programme has risen from £0.5 milllion to £2 million over the past five years. Budgets for future years have not yet been decided but they are likely to go on increasing.

In the spring of 1999 the DTI announced three major new PV initiatives:

  1. (a) a Call for Proposals for PV Components and Systems, with the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of UK companies;
  2. (b) a Domestic PV Roof Field Trial, to test a variety of actual PV installations under UK conditions; and
  3. (c) a Large-Scale Building-Integrated PV Demonstration Scheme, to develop best practice and operational experience.

The total value of these three intiatives is expected to be £15 million, with £5 million coming from the DTI's solar energy R&D budget over a number of years. In addition, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Renewable and New Energy Technologies Programme of basic research, worth £3.5 million per annum, includes photovoltaics amongst its priorities.