There are a range of other sectors in the
UK also able to contribute to a low carbon future
with guaranteed supplies for
consumers and industry. Three with the
potential to transform the nation's energy
mix are shale gas, solar and bioenergy.
These are the ones to watch as their supply chains meet the challenges of an
industry undergoing massive change.
Britain's solar energy sector is being transformed as the focus moves from
farms to the rooftops of homes, factories,
schools and even farmyard buildings.
The future was set out in the first-ever UK
Solar Strategy launched in April 2014 by
then Energy Minister Greg Barker who said it
places Britain - already among the world
leaders on solar - right at the cutting edge.
The plan is to open up the solar market for
the UK's estimated 250,000 hectares of
south facing commercial rooftops. "There is
massive potential to turn our large buildings
into power stations and we must seize the
opportunity this offers to boost our economy
as part of our long term economic plan,"
said the Minister.
The Strategy follows the "Roadmap to a
Brighter Future" which was published a year
earlier. It showcases how the UK is at the
forefront of innovation in solar PV and the
importance, among other things, of the
industry working with the supply chain to
drive further cost reduction.
New centres of innovation in the sector have
sprung up around the country, and as the
R&D moves into products, opportunities will
come for engineering companies. These are
high technology, next generation products.
Examples include Oxford PV and Polysolar
who are designing new materials which can
replace glass - turning the very windows of
our buildings into solar panels.
Innovation in technology, manufacture and
installations is needed, says the Strategy,
and while solar is already amongst the most
cost-competitive of renewable technologies
the industry will need to show leadership
and innovation to win; and one of its core
actions will be to improve the supply chain
and access to skills and training.
ENERGYSOLAR, SHALE AND BIOENERGY
SOLAR, SHALE AND BIOENERGY
THREE SECTORS TO TRANSFORM THE ENERGY MIX
continued on page 26
Solar typically now supplies over 8% of electricity during the day in the UK and 14,000
work in the sector. The Renewable Energy
Association estimates that solar brought
£2.2 billion into the British economy in
Also see: BRE National Solar Centre (page
47) and Supergen Solar Hub (page 50).
UK GETS READY
Probably one of the most controversial
energy sectors is shale gas which could
create a £33 billion investment opportunity for Britain and over 64,000 jobs.
This was the finding of a report 'Getting
Ready for UK Shale Gas' published in April
2014 and commissioned by UK Onshore Oil
and Gas (UKOOG), the representative body
Left, courtesy, the BBSRC Sustainable
Bioenergy Centre, which says that
"remarkably the little marine wood
borer, or Gribble" pictured could hold
the secret to sustainable energy. The
gut enzymes allow the bug to damage
wooden sea structures such as piers
and the Centre's scientists are harnessing this to
break down wood for
sustainable bioenergy production.
Far left, a solar panel, from REC, the
largest European supplier of solar
panels worldwide, and a UK leader.