European countries have backed solar photovoltaic (PV) expansion with the goals of lowering carbon emissions and fostering a clean technology sector for a long time. However, in comparison to some other European countries, solar power has been slow to develop in the United Kingdom.
Nevertheless, the growth of solar power and the use of solar panels is increasing rapidly in the UK, and the future seems to be bright.
There are many aspects and details that should be considered if one wants to understand what the future of UK solar power is going to be like. In this article, you will get to know just that.
Solar Energy in the UK: An Overview
Solar panels are becoming a more appealing proposition for the region due to government incentives and reducing equipment costs. People have become more aware of the unbounded advantages of solar energy and are eager to leverage it.
On the other hand, firms are putting together plans to buy solar farms and solar plants because of their reliability, flexible usage and ecological benefits. Firms have come to understand the increasing importance of solar power and are determined to make exponential advancements in this field by making hefty investments.
Moreover, solar panels can be used in multiple projects of different types. PV panels of various varieties could be utilised on building facades, windows, and public areas. The flexibility with which solar power can be produced and used makes it a reliable and futuristic energy source.
Also, the new solar photovoltaic (PV) and associated technologies can help reduce carbon emissions more than ever. It is also expected that they can help in lowering installation costs and other expenses while expanding the spectrum of solar power applications. Hence, these advancements are paving the way for the widespread use of solar power both by public and private UK businesses.
Furthermore, the accompanying technologies of installing panels, energy storage, and grid integration are constantly improving and becoming affordable. It can fuel the development and widespread application of solar panels.
In a nutshell, the emerging solar power technologies will help the UK reach its emission reduction targets while also delivering on the promise of low-cost, widespread solar power.
The Growth of Renewable Energy Source in the UK
Even while it may appear that the UK is falling behind its European counterparts, a report produced by the UK government titled “Section 6- Renewables” demonstrates that the sector’s prospects are rapidly increasing.
The British government has made several new adjustments to the legislation governing PV systems. The closure of the Feed-in Tariff and the establishment of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which will provide financial support to small low-carbon generators, are two of the most significant changes. These adjustments can foster the growth of solar technology for improving the amount of electricity generated and the use of this green energy in the UK.
The positive effect of these new changes was seen, and the UK’s solar capacity grew from 5,488.6 MW in 2014 to 13,259 MW in June 2019. Moreover, in 2021, the installed capacity was recorded at a whopping 13.5 gigawatts (GW) plus.
So, in comparison to past years, the region’s solar energy growth has been strong. And more investors are flocking to this sector with the expectation that it will become the most dependent in the near future.
However, there are a few factors that can impede the growth of the UK solar capacity and widespread use of solar panels. These factors include the increase in the VAT on installing solar panels, lack of awareness and expensive technology.
The Future of Solar Energy in the UK
The renewable energy of the sun has limitless perks and applications. It has the potential to transform the world’s electricity generation trends. Despite the enticing advantages of solar panels or solar energy, the future cannot be clearly predicted. There are multiple reasons behind this unpredictability, such as the expensive cost, the influence of gas prices and the supply. Let’s look at each of them in detail.
The PV cells and other solar equipment are still not affordable for many. Hence, people are not willing to invest a hefty sum of money in order to save money. So, as long as the cost of installing the solar PV system and other expenses doesn’t become feasible for the public, the future will remain blurry.
The Solar module costs are being driven down by the combination of material efficiency, light conversion efficiency, energy efficiency and production efficiency. Hence, when the costs, both in terms of time and money, would not be curbed at these levels, the prices will remain stagnant. However, it is noteworthy that over the last few decades, solar module prices have dropped, but we still have a long way to go.
Nevertheless, the flame of hope is still bright because the new technological advancements in the field of solar energy are aiding in reducing the overall solar module costs. As a result, it can be expected that the solar panels will be sold at much cheaper rates than they are being sold today.
In the United Kingdom, gas is the “marginal supplier,” which means that gas plants dictate power pricing the majority of the time instead of coal and power prices in neighbouring countries across most of Europe.
So, the future of solar energy costs in the UK is directly or indirectly dependent on gas prices and hence fossil fuels. If gas and electricity prices in the United Kingdom rise, solar PV will have an easier time competing, and market penetration will continue to rise.
Solar power is gaining importance with time, and due to climate change, it is expected to gain immense value in the coming future as well. Also, as natural fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of energy and are expected to exhaust soon, the use of solar energy as the primary substitute is obvious. As a result, there will be an increase in demand, and the country that fails to become independent in terms of solar power supply will suffer.
A solar panel takes time to be manufactured, and if there isn’t a balance between the demand and supply, the future will get affected.
Most of the solar panels are manufactured by Chinese solar companies, as the UK is also dependent on them to meet the demands. It can be said that the future of solar power in the UK will remain dependent as well. There is a need for more solar equipment manufacturers and a sustainable framework that promotes solar growth in the UK.
The Future Concerns for Renewable Energy in the UK
The solar sector has skyrocketed, from a mere 12 megawatts of capacity in 2006 to over 13,000MW last year, and the UK has emerged as a significant worldwide participant. However, there are still a number of concerns that could stifle the rise of solar power in the United Kingdom.
Here is a list of concerns that need to be addressed-
- People still see solar panels just as a way to save on energy bills. There is a need to increase awareness about solar energy and its benefits among the masses,
- Generating electricity from solar panels or solar installations should not be the primary objective. Government has to take steps to promote innovation and development in this field.
- The solar power future and the aim to surpass fossil fuels might suffer because of the imbalance in the demand-supply chain. The risks in the demand-supply chain need to be addressed appropriately.
If we smartly leverage the available solar energy, come up with innovative solutions and support the growth of the solar industry, the UK can expect to become the world’s largest energy source of solar power in the coming years. Not only will the energy from the sun’s rays become more cost-effective, but it will also generate new opportunities.
The future of solar power in the UK is bright if proper measures are taken.