Solar pv on rooftops to be sidelined under new building regulations

As if threats to ban solar farms from most suitable land in the countryside  wasn’t enough, the next set of building regulations may sideline solar pv for new buildings.

Solar industry leaders were pleased when the new building regulations came into force this June because they boosted pressure to install solar pv on new buildings. On the other hand hopes that the new regulations would boost heat pumps were dashed because the required improvement in carbon reductions were simply not enough.

However, in the next set of building regulations, to be implemented first in Scotland in 2024, it looks like the tables will be turned. I am told that Scottish Government officials are planning that the (much bigger) reductions in carbon emissions that will be required for new buildings can be met with heat pumps. Solar pv on the roofs will, it seems, not be necessary since it is argued electricity will soon be carbon-free anyway.

Now this is a bad argument – we’re going to need more renewable electricity to power the heat pumps to replace gas heating for a start. Solar pv on rooftops is an easy fix given that it is cheap to install when building work is done.

Of course much the same argument as in Scotland is likely to happen for England when the Westminster Government (which is lagging behind the Scots) issues new building regulations to take effect in 2025. Indeed, in England we might not even get heat pumps mandated in the new energy section of the building regulations for England since the gas lobby is promoting the idea of ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers (ie gas boilers with a sticker on them saying they are hydrogen ready).

Dr Keith Baker from Glasgow Caledonian University said: ‘”Under the new Buildings Standards, the Scottish Government is yet again disregarding the importance of ensuring as many buildings as possible are fitted with solar photovoltaic and / or solar thermal panels…… until we completely decarbonise the electricity grid, all technologies that rely on grid electricity to power them will be increasing the demand for electricity from non-renewable sources. It’s time the Scottish Government took solar seriously by amending the Building Standards to require all new buildings to be fitted with solar panels unless the developers can prove why they are not needed.”

These issues (as well as our new report on how to organise a real energy efficiency programme) have been discussed at the Green Buildings webinar which was held on Wednesday 16th November at 6pm. SEE THE RECORDED WEBINAR AT:

Speakers at the webinar were: Kevin Holland, Managing Director of Solar Shed talked about ‘Why Everyone needs solar pv’. Emily Rice, Scotland Policy Analyst for Solar Energy UK discussed how  ‘the role regulation has played in Scotland’s solar new build success’. Andrew Warren, Chair of the British Energy Efficiency Federation (BEEF), answered the question ‘How we can do a real energy efficiency programme’ and David Toke of 100percentrenewableuk outlined the new report published by 100percentrenewableuk entitled ‘How to organise a real energy efficiency programme’.

by David Toke

Petition: Campaign for green buildings – Make solar panels on suitable buildings mandatory and ban fossil fuel heating in new buildings SIGN the petition here! 

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6 thoughts on “Solar pv on rooftops to be sidelined under new building regulations”

  1. I hope your group and others are pointing out that prohibiting groundmount PVs on farmland would outlaw the rapidly growing and highly successful EU and US practice of “agrivoltaics”, combining PVs AND farming or grazing on the same land (PVs on top) at the same time to the benefit of both. That would be a tragic error, and hard on the farmers who need the extra income.

  2. I can give a personal guarantee that solar pv is not a waste of time in the UK. Solar farms are several times cheaper than nuclear power and my own solar panels are saving me mountains of money.

  3. Not sure why Robert Sundahl thinks solar PV is a waste of money in the UK. The installation on our last house paid for itself in 8 years and I was happy to pay extra for solar PV on our new-build property, partly to offset the cost of running a heat pump as the article suggests. Solar PV is now so popular in the UK that it is difficult to source the components or find an installer who has time to squeeze in another customer. I have been asked many times by friends and neighbours about solar PV and none of them seem to be interested in the ‘symbolic value’. Robert’s argument seems perverse to me.

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