Saturday’s summer solstice, the longest day of the year, “is a reminder of how Britain has been celebrating the sun for over 4,000 years”, according to the solar power industry’s trade body.
The sun rose at around 5am on Saturday morning and will set at 9.30pm, meaning that parts of the UK will enjoy over 16 hours of sunlight. Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association (STA), said solar power came into its own on days like this.
“In the 21st century, clean solar power can revolutionise how we power our homes and businesses. Solar also improves our national security by providing energy independence and effective action against climate change”, she added.
“The half a million families that go to bed with a solar panel on their roof every night will find their solar panels coming to life long before their alarm clocks.”
The summer solstice generally occurs between June 20-22 each year in the northern hemisphere and December 20-23 in southern regions.
It marks the point at which the sun has reached its highest position in the sky, and brings with it the longest period of daylight for those living outside the polar regions (where daylight is continuous in summer months).
As is tradition, crowds of more than 30,000 people flocked to Stonehenge in Wiltshire to see the sun rise on Saturday morning.
The government revealed last year that 500,000 houses in the UK were now fitted with solar panels. Greene said, “The UK solar industry will soon stand on its own two feet, but only if the government provides policy stability and a more level playing field for this very popular technology. All that is needed is one more push for solar to compete directly with fossil fuels.”
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 the STA is calling Solar Independence Day. The aim is to teach the public about the benefits of renewable energy.