Solar panels with the sun behind.

Loughborough expert contributes to new paper launched at House of Lords that champions UK solar expertise

A Loughborough University expert has contributed to a new report that champions the role of solar in the UK energy system and the extensive expertise and innovation in UK companies and academia.

Professor Michael Walls, of the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering and Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), has shared his extensive knowledge of photovoltaics – the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials – to help with the creation of ‘The Solar Commission, A bright future: opportunities for UK innovation in solar energy’ paper, which was launched at the House of Lords last week.

The report, which was produced by the Solar Commission, managed by Regen, a not-for-profit centre of energy expertise and market insight, and funded by UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), presents analysis and evidence on the opportunities for UK-based innovation in the solar energy sector, in areas including materials sciences, finance, asset management and digital technology.  

Professor Walls is a member of the Solar Commission, which is formed of industry leaders, academics and other experts in the field. Commissioners were responsible for investigating the future role of solar power in the energy system, considering the UK’s areas of strength in research and innovation in solar.

Of the paper, Professor Walls said: “The report of the Solar Commission is excellent. It highlights the challenges we need to be meeting to bring down the cost of solar electricity further still. It also draws attention to technical and financial issues faced by solar asset management. 

“Innovation is the key and the UK is well placed with its strong science base in universities and a bunch of entrepreneurial companies with great ideas. 

“We need to get behind their efforts and take advantage of the enormous business opportunities that exist.”

He continued: "The world market for solar has grown by more than 25% compound each year over the last decade. This report is essential holiday reading for all policymakers worried about energy security and climate change.”

Kerry Hayes, project manager at Regen, said: “The role of the Commission was to stimulate new thinking and encourage collaboration on the role of solar power in the energy system.

“I am delighted to launch this report which is packed of evidence and analysis highlighting the opportunities for UK based organisations and research institutions to lead in innovation in this exciting sector.”

The publication was launched on 9 July to a room of over 70 sector leaders and sustainable energy experts, with Joanna Whittington, Director General for Energy and Security at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy welcoming the paper, which outlined areas where the UK could use its scientific and technical capabilities to play a leading role in innovation and industrial strategy opportunities in solar power.

View the final publication here.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/103

Regen is a not-for-profit centre of energy expertise and market insight whose mission is to transform the world’s energy systems for a zero carbon future:

The Solar Commission was a UKERC funded initiative and details of Commissioners can be found here:

The launch took place at an event in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Robin Teverson on 9 July and was attended by 70 industry experts.

You can download the paper here.

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