HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 c63W
Mr. Wyatt

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans his Department has to increase the number of new houses with solar tiles; and if he will make a statement. [74837]

Mr. Wilson

I have been asked to reply.

The DTI has a research and development programme to assess various aspects of PV product development, installation and operation on domestic buildings. In particular, the Domestic PV Systems Field Trial is supporting several projects on clusters of houses. This should result in around 500 PV roofs with a total capacity of around 800 KWp and a budget of over £5 million. This trial will use the design, construction and monitoring of the installation as a learning opportunity for utilities, building developers and other key players in the process of PV installation. Information will be gathered on the buildability, operating performance, reliability and maintainability of building-integrated PV (BIPV) systems, thus paving the way for improvements in know how in the home PV industry.

In addition, the recently introduced First Phase of the Major Photovoltaic Demonstration Programme aims to distribute grants to households and businesses wishing to install PV arrays onto their buildings. The programme seeks to increase public awareness and drive down the market cost of installation by offering 50 per cent. grants on the installation of PV systems. A third of the £20 million budget has been allocated to small PV installation on individual dwellings, which should result in 1500 roof systems being installed. A further third of the budget has been allocated to private and social housing developers, resulting in a further 1500 roof systems. Up to the end of September the programme has had 70 successful small scale applications and has approved 8 larger scale applications.

With regard to building regulations, these were changed on April 2002 to enable the benefits of low carbon and zero carbon technologies, such as PV, to be more readily taken into account and to encourage industry and consumer take-up. The economics of making the installation of PV solar panels a compulsory element of new building regulations are not yet favourable, as the price of PV remains high.

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