HC Deb 20 November 2001 vol 375 cc167-8W
Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress in the(a) development of and (b) support for thin film solar photovoltaic renewable energy technology. [15573]

Mr. Wilson

Thin film photovoltaic technology (largely amorphous silicon) currently accounts for about 20 per cent. of total world shipments of all PV products but its market share is increasing. Several countries and companies are investing heavily in research into and development of existing and new thin film technologies. Although thin film modules and tiles tend to be less efficient than the more established crystalline silicon products, they have the potential to be much cheaper, because they are more suited to automated processing and use much less of the basic PV material, such as silicon.

In the UK, the Government have supported a number of research and development projects for thin film technologies, including several large projects with the UK's only thin film cell producer. The DTI is also supporting the deployment of thin film products under its Domestic Field Trials, and the recently announced Large Scale Field Trial for Public Buildings will be open to all PV technologies. Budgets for these trials amount to some £8.4 million. In addition to this the Government have allocated £20 million to the first phase of a major PV demonstration programme over the next two to three years.