The hot British summer has provided a welcome boost to solar power, which the industry says now often outperforms wind on sunny days.
There are almost half a million solar photovoltaic (PV) panel installed across the UK, with nearly all of these fitted to domestic properties. In the last year alone, there were 100,000 installations, despite the government slashing subsidies to the industry in the last 18 months.
Ray Noble, solar PV specialist at trade body the Solar Trade Association (STA), calculated that the UK generated around 16,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of solar power on Tuesday last week, whereas wind generation produced 9,900MWh.
A spokesperson from the STA said, “This is great news; it shows how the industry can produce when the conditions are right. It has pretty much come from nothing back in 2009, but is now producing 2.7 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.”
But despite this success, the industry still has to contend with obstructions such as infrastructure, government policy and public perception before it reaches ultimate success.
The STA added, “We lobby government to secure the best possible framework for the industry. There are long-term issues such as the infrastructure and the ability of the national grid; it was designed for the coal and gas industries. We are not coming up against major limitations just yet, but it will happen.”
Recent research carried out by Navigant (formerly Pike), suggests that solar power generation will reach annual revenues of $112 billion by 2018, with some countries tripling their volume of installations.
Fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, are often considered to be incompatible with tackling climate change. The European Investment Bank recently announced that it would not invest in coal, the dirtiest energy source, unless it cleaned up its act.
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