UK celebrates Solar Independence Day

UK celebrates Solar Independence Day

UK celebrates Solar Independence Day

With Britain having basked in a record-breaking heatwave for the past week, there's never been a better time to celebrate the contribution of the solar industry to our energy needs.

It's fortuitous, then, that as temperatures rocketed over the weekend (July 3rd to 4th), communities up and down the country observed the Solar Trade Association (STA)-organised Solar Independence Day.

UK celebrates Solar Independence Day

According to an STA forecast released last week, solar panels supplied as much as 15 per cent of the UK's energy on Friday. Much of this can be attributed to small-scale and community-led deployments, such as home and business installations. One of the purposes of Solar Independence Day - on which members of the public were invited to open days at solar farms across this UK - was to draw attention to this achievement, as well as to the growing role of solar panels in powering the country.

In comments made to Edie.net, STA chief executive Paul Barwell said: "At more than 80 per cent public support, solar has been shown in government opinion polls to be the country’s most popular form of energy."

The Solar Independence Plan for Britain

The weekend's events were also intended to publicise the organisations' Solar Indepedence Plan for Britain, launched last month (June 8th) to propose government measures to make solar power as cost-effective as traditional forms of energy generation.

Specifically, the plan seeks to deliver price parity between rooftop solar power and retail energy, as well as between large-scale solar farms and new gas CCGT power stations, over the next half-decade.

It also recommends that the government adopts a higher ambition scenario wherein 25 gigawatts of the UK's energy needs are fulfilled by the solar industry within the same timeframe. This would involve the creation of 2.1 million solar homes, 24,000 commercial rooftop and community schemes, 2,300 good quality solar farms, and almost 57,000 jobs across the country by 2020 - and it would only cost households £13 per year, the STA claims.

"Our goal is to secure a strong British solar industry that can beat fossil fuels on price without subsidy, as quickly as possible," said Mr Barwell. "If the industry is given the right support this parliament, it can deliver clean, affordable power at a stable price to the public and to British businesses in perpetuity."

He added that this will incur "suprisingly little additional cost" for the government - an outlook that chimes with the general consensus among solar experts that the technology is growing less and less reliant on subsidies to survive.

As of the end of 2014, solar power contributed around five gigawatts to the UK's energy needs - enough to power about 1.5 million homes. This represents a year-on-year increase of almost 100 per cent.

On that occasion, Mr Barwell said: "This milestone achievement is testament to the hard work of Britain's several thousand solar businesses, almost of all of them small and medium-sized companies."


Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of Thinkstock