Solar farms across England and Wales will open for visits from local residents, schools, businesses and community groups on July 4 for an event that will teach the public about the benefits of renewable energy.
The Solar Trade Association (STA) say Solar Independence Day will give visitors the opportunity to put any questions they have to the owners and managers of solar farms.
At the same time, they will be given the opportunity to learn about how “responsibly developed” solar farms improve the local environment and economy.
The event has been timed to coincide with the famous American national holiday that celebrates the founding of the independent USA because, the STA says, independence is a crucial benefit delivered by solar power.
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They say solar farms help liberate the UK from polluting fossil fuels, liberate farming businesses from financial risk resulting from poor crop yields, and liberate consumers from excessive energy bills.
“There’s a really positive story to be told about how benign, unobtrusive solar farms are quietly reducing our carbon emissions, boosting local biodiversity, helping farmers diversify their income, creating jobs and enhancing the UK’s energy security,” said STA chief executive Paul Barwell.
“With 85% support, solar consistently enjoys the highest public opinion rating of any energy technology. We’re working hard to maintain that level of support.”
A report published last week by The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) revealed that 2013 was a record year for the solar industry.
Though growth was largely driven by new developments in Asia, at least 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of new photovoltaic systems were installed across Europe.
In April, it was revealed that America’s solar energy capacity has increased by 418% in the last four years, while China recently unveiled plans to triple its solar power output by 2017.
However, the EPIA says that the sector is still policy-driven, and requires accommodating frameworks and policies from politicians to provide certainty to investors.
Shortly after that warning, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed plans to stop subsidies through the renewables obligation (RO) scheme for large-scale solar farms. This means that solar farms of more than 5 megawatts (MW) in size will have to compete with other forms of renewable energy under the new contracts for difference (CfD) scheme.
Experts have warned that the prospect of these reforms has made the UK solar market less attractive to investors, but Paul Barwell expressed the industry’s determination to persevere.
“Despite current uncertainty in central government policy, we remain committed to leading the renewable energy sector to price parity with fossil electricity as soon as possible,” he said.
For more information on which solar farms will be participating in Solar Independence Day, visit the STA’s website.
Photo: Patrick Moore via Free Images