Solar energy is the term used to describe any energy that is generated by the sun. The most common form is the use of solar panels (or photovoltaic cells) to harvest energy and convert it into electricity.
Clearly, one of the main benefits of solar is the fact that it emits much less carbon than traditional options that rely on fossils fuels. However, the cost saving and potential earning benefits have recently led to an increase in attention for this renewable energy source.
Solar Energy Growth
As reported in a briefing by Solar Energy UK, in 2021, solar panels supplied more than 4% of the UK’s entire electricity demand, and this could treble by 2030. Additionally, solar can already produce as much as 30% of UK electricity at different points in the year.
The briefing details a strong growth forecast in the sector for the next decade, meaning that solar’s contribution to the UK’s clean electricity will increase. If the UK achieves 40GW of solar capacity by 2030, solar could meet 15% of the UK’s annual power needs.
As part of the UK government’s national target of reducing carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2050, they’ve committed to sustained growth in solar capacity.
Solar Panel Installations
With the BBC reporting at the end of August 2022, that amid the energy bills crisis, UK solar installations were up to 3,000 a week from 1,000 a week in July 2020, it seems that this form of renewable energy really is in the spotlight.
The main disadvantage of solar panels is that the initial investment can be costly, therefore, it can take a number of years to fully reap the monetary benefits, however, the recent and proposed upcoming energy price cap rises have knocked years off this figure, making them an even more attractive option.
Plus, according to research by Solar Energy UK, installation of solar panels on a typical home could increase its value by around £2,000.
Diversification of Farms to Solar Energy Production
With new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss having recently been quoted saying that “What we shouldn’t be doing is putting solar panels on productive agricultural land”, the diversification of farm land to solar energy production is a hot topic at the minute.
As the cost of renewable energy technology has decreased, this has created opportunities for farmers to reduce their own energy costs and create an additional income stream through the installation of solar panels on parts of their land.
UK government guidance to local authorities considering planning applications for solar farms is that they should avoid the use of best and most versatile cropland, therefore, there would be minimal impact on food production.
It can be argued that our changing climate, for example drought, is a huge risk to food security. Therefore, as renewable energy helps to address climate change, solar farms could actually help sustain food production.
Plus, where solar farms have been implemented and agricultural land is no longer managed so intensively, biodiversity has increased by way of variance and growth in plants, hedgerows, wetland habitats, pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.
As we discussed in a recent news article about The Importance of Technology in the Energy Transition, as more renewables, such as solar, come online, the demand for storage increases so the improvement of battery solutions to expand capacity and lower costs is imperative.
With the UK’s residential, commercial and utility solar markets all performing extremely well, this can only be good news for jobs in the solar sector.
At Visuna, we understand that renewable energy projects can encompass complex objectives and deliverables. We can provide specialist contract and permanent personnel, or even full teams, to help you power forwards in the energy transition. Contact us today to find out more.