Mr Cameron was earlier this year forced to respond to claims he told aides to
get rid of the “green crap” from energy bills.
It was claimed he was referring to green subsidies that help to fund wind
power, solar panels and other renewable energy schemes.
In a speech earlier this month, Mr Barker said: “We need to make the
Government itself a leader in solar deployment.
“Government public buildings should be at the forefront of the move to
He added: “So next year you can expect to hear more from me on my ambitious
plans to ensure the government estate plays its part in the decentralised
“The Government is sitting on huge potential; we need to do much more.”
The Solar Trade Association said that one gigawatt of solar would equate to
about four million panels.
Its land use estimates suggest that if these were deployed as solar farms it
would require up to 6,000 acres of land – the equivalent of 3,400 football
The Ministry of Defence is one of Britain’s largest landowners, creating the
potential for solar farms to be built on its land.
School and hospital roofs could also be potential sites.
Typically power from a solar farm is fed into the electricity grid, whereas
power generated by panels on roofs can first be used to power the building
All types of solar projects currently receive subsidies paid for through
levies on consumer energy bills.
Mr Barker has said his “ambition” is for Britain to have 22 gigawatts of solar
power installed by 2020. The Solar Trade Association says one-third of this
could come from installations on household roofs, one third on large
buildings like commercial sites, and one third in solar farms.
But official government documents suggest that there would actually be far
fewer farms, with between 2.4 GW and 4 GW of “large-scale” solar
developments such as solar farms.
Solar farms have proved hugely controversial, with Eric Pickles, the
communities secretary, intervening to block a proposal for one of Britain’s
largest solar farms in Suffolk.
Critics also raise fears about agricultural land being turned over to solar
But the STA argues that even if 10GW was deployed, it would amount to 0.1 per
cent of UK land, which it says is less than is used for non-food crops like
linseed, or landfill sites.
Leonie Greene of the Solar Trade Association said: “Solar farms have an
important role to play delivering green power at low cost. Done well solar
farms can also actively help boost British biodiversity by providing
wildlife sancturies. Only 5 per cent of the land a solar farm is on is taken
up with fixings, so 95 per cent of the land remains available to other uses.
The solar industry is moving to make sure much of that land is used to help
our threatened flora and fauna.”
The STA argues there are not enough large-scale solar roof installations
taking place. “Potential output is vast and this is a very cost-effective
and efficient way to deliver solar power – right at the point of use,” Ms
There is no fixed timetable for the implementation of Mr Barker’s plans, it is
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We said in the Coalition Agreement that we
would take measures to improve energy efficiency in public sector buildings.
We have already taken steps to achieve this in Downing Street and across the
Government estate and this work is ongoing.”
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