Now is the time to move toward utility scale solar

Posted on 12 December 2022

​To meet rising energy needs sustainably will require a significant increase in solar energy, and for the UK, a shift to utility-scale solar is critical. Increasing the movement will enable the UK to achieve its renewable energy targets, reduce carbon emissions and generate considerable economic, environmental and social benefits. Utility-scale solar offers a cost-efficient and clean energy resource that supports global energy demands and reduces the impacts of climate change. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), to avoid the consequences of climate change, the global electricity sector must reach net-zero emissions by 2040. Limiting global warming requires a significant increase in large-scale carbon capture and storage technologies and accelerated wind and solar development. While a range of renewable energy sources is needed, utility-scale solar presents several advantages over others. Solar is cost-efficient compared to other renewable energy technologies, requiring small areas and low-maintenance equipment.

Decarbonising energy is vital to reaching a sustainable economy and reducing emissions by the Paris Agreement. According to information from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global weighted average levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for utility-scale solar projects decreased by 13% in 2021. As prices continue to decline, the UK should explore options to install and commission utility-scale solar. Considering the plans and regulations in the UK, there needs to be an agreement on land use. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has already stated that some farmland should be allocated for other uses, like solar development. There need to be further discussions on the impact of biodiversity and food production in surrounding areas with structured planning and infrastructure investment. Without a structured strategy, there could be a risk of potential floods and further impact on biodiversity and wildlife in surrounding areas. While these are serious concerns, the UK must overcome all barriers to a net-zero future, something that is likely impossible without the energy generated by solar. It’s predicted that the utility solar sector will see the biggest growth in the next few years. In the last year, the UK saw an 80% increase in new solar installations through a combination of residential, commercial and industrial.

At present, there are very few large solar farms in the UK meaning there is significant potential for the solar industry to be a major part of the UK’s journey toward net zero. Without a rise of solar in the UK energy market, the UK faces the potential risk of becoming reliant on fossil fuel imports at a time when international pressures are being put on countries to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and shift towards clean energy. Utility-scale solar in the UK would reduce energy prices, create additional jobs, boost the economy, and reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels.

For a healthier environment and a net zero UK., the UK must invest in utility-scale solar power. The technology is available, easy to maintain and capable of providing unlimited free energy. Progression and innovation are constantly happening, meaning solar will only become more efficient shortly. With the world requiring better renewable energy, now is the time for the country to transition to utility-scale solar. At present, solar makes up a fraction of the global energy supply. One of the most beneficial technologies available, solar has considerable potential to reduce emissions and the use of fossil fuels. Renewable energy is the best way to be independent and is a critical part of our journey toward net zero. With solar representing a significant energy resource, the UK can provide cheaper, clean energy and disconnect from the increasingly unpredictable energy market.

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