UK and Solar Energy
In these blog series, we are bringing Solar topic closer to you via country by country examples. Since most of you wanted UK as the next one – here it is.
Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, the United Kingdom has around 65 million inhabitants with an area of 242,500 m2. It consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and seventeen territories sovereignty. The United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by PPP.
OK, an island with rainy and windy mild climate. Wind Power yes, Solar no. Right?
Indeed, solar power represented a very small part of electricity production in United Kingdom until 2011. The installed base has increased rapidly in recent years as a result of reductions in the cost of photovoltaic (PV) panels and the introduction of a feed-in tariff subsidy in April 2010.
Solar Data Nowadays
As of May 2017, there is a total installed capacity of 12,3 GW of PV solar power (the same production capacity as eight new-generation nuclear reactors), placing the United Kingdom in sixth place internationally in terms of total installed capacity. In 2016 the UK generated 3.4% of its total electricity using solar power. In the summer half-year from April to September 2016, UK solar panels produced more electricity (6,964 GWh) than did coal power (6,342 GWh). Each is about 5% of demand.
The UK's annual insolation is in the range of 750–1,100 kilowatt-hours per square metre (kWh/m²). London receives 0.52 and 4.74 kWh/m² per day in December and July, respectively. While the sunniest parts of the UK receive much less solar radiation than the sunniest parts of Europe, the country's insolation in the south is comparable with that of central European countries, including Germany, which generates about 7% of its electricity from solar power. Additionally, the UK's higher wind speeds cool PV modules, leading to higher efficiency than could be expected at these levels of insolation.
PV for Homes
The government does not provide solar grants, but the Feed-in Tariff is provided to ensure households with solar panels make a healthy return on investment over 20 years.
If you want to lower your energy bills and carbon footprint but can’t afford to buy a solar panel, you can get them installed for free. However, you will not get any of the money from the Feed-in tariff, but benefit only through Energy bill savings. This goes to the company who owns the solar panel. You simply get the use of the free clean energy the panel produces. Essentially you are renting your roof space to the solar company, who will maintain and service the panel for you.
Net metering is available, although not widespread.
Solar Street Lights
In the UK alone over 4 billion KWh of electricity is consumed by street lighting every year, costing approximately £500m and resulting in over 1.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being produced.
Unlike solar farms where land is being occupied, solar street lights need no space, since above ground mounted (on pole).
Leeds County Council is set to roll out a network of solar-powered street map signs at 25 different sites across the city. The “Walk It” signs will utilize solar PV technology to power a back light behind the displays. The back-lit maps will allow visitors and tourists to easily navigate across the city in day or night. Councillor Richard Lewis said: “We want to make sure people can find their way around the city center and these signs will ensure they don’t miss out on any of our many attractions. “We’ve decided to locate this first phase of signs near the train and bus stations and within the city’s main shopping area and, because they are solar-powered, the signs will be lit up at night which encourage people to make the most of the vibrant night-life.”
2020 Renewable obligations
The Renewable Energy Directive ties the UK to a target of 15% of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, with sub-targets of 30% renewable electricity, 12% heat and a binding target of 10% renewable in transport.
The UK’s acceptance of the nearly zero energy building (nzeb) requirement of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD), another EU-set scheme, requires all new buildings constructed after 2020 to be built to European standards for high energy performance and to incorporate renewable energy sources to meet the low energy demand of each building.
Solar near-term Future
In 2012, the government announced that 4 million homes across the UK will be powered by the sun within eight years, representing 22 GW of installed solar power capacity by 2020.
The Green Energy for Schools programme will be providing 100 schools across the UK with solar panels.
Solar Applications: farm, rooftop, street lights, street signs, devices powered by it, roads, bike roads, space, airplane, car, train, bus stops, billboards, etc.
By 2030, it is expected that the cheapest gas will cost about £100/MWh compared with solar at £52 to £73 and onshore wind at £45 to £72.
A surge in renewable power poses challenges for National Grid as it balances supply and demand on the grid.
Solar power remains the top bet among many, including the United States, where solar panels accounted for 60 percent of California’s record-breaking clean energy usage in March this year.
The steady rise of solar energy is made possible in part by the decrease in the cost of solar panels. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt that the solar industry is also providing jobs in places desperate for them. In the U.S., more people were employed in generating electricity from solar last year than from coal, oil, and gas combined. Cleary, the Sun isn’t just shining in the UK.
For all reasons stated above and many more, we at EnGoPlanet are receiving more and more inquiries about Solar Street Lights and Smart Solar benches from United Kingdom. Our aim is to accomplish all (pending) projects so our clients and community in general would be more than happy to refer us as a reliable, flexible and cost-efficient company.