National Solar Centre

Research, Innovation & Knowledge

The National Solar Centre will be the UK hub for solar research, development and innovation, and use its national status to support the development and growth of Cornwall’s solar photovoltaic businesses.

This purpose of this ERDF project is to establish a National Solar Centre in St Austell to support and strengthen the UK’s fast growing solar industry for which Cornwall is a market leader with some of the highest rates per capita of solar installations and technology. The National Solar Centre will offer a single reference point for quality assurance, advice, product knowledge and technical standards, enabling the sector to perform to its highest potential, whilst encouraging users to adopt the technology with confidence. Though the services of the Centre will be available nationally, the main focus of the project will be towards assisting Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly based companies, either by way of targeted business support or through knowledge based collaborations.  

The Centre will be delivered in two phases. Phase One, leading up to the main launch of the centre in June 2015, is being funded by this ERDF investment. During this phase, a project team will be recruited and managed by BRE and located within existing premises alongside the Eco-communities development company (Eco-Bos) at the Brunel Business Park in St Austell. The office suite will house the technology and facilities needed to start the process of collating, analysing and reporting data back to the solar industry and Government.

The role of the team during the initial two and a half years will be to develop five specific functions:

1. Solar Data Knowledge Hub - undertake macro and micro level data interrogation and share knowledge with the industry.

2. New Build Due Diligence and Testing – provide verification of designs as part of due diligence, and testing of panels in advance of installation. Fault finding on existing installations.

3. Existing System Fault Finding – carry out independent system fault finding, design validation/verifications and optimisation for existing installations.

4. Quality Control – to provide specification for the design of systems over 10kW and create quality standards and protocols.

5. The Observatory – to develop a respected voice within the solar photovoltaic industry and to use international best practice to support the Cornish and UK solar industries.