Power of sun generates record level of electricity

SOLAR power yesterday supplied 16 per cent of the UK’s electricity as the country basked in sunshine, according to industry estimates.
Solar sources, including at Bilston Glen, below, generated 16 of the UKs energy yesterdaySolar sources, including at Bilston Glen, below, generated 16 of the UKs energy yesterday
Solar sources, including at Bilston Glen, below, generated 16 of the UKs energy yesterday

An increase in the amount of solar panels and the glorious sunshine meant that solar arrays from large farms to home roof panels yesterday helped to raise the amount it contributes to meet the country’s energy needs. to what is thought to be a record level.

The most recent official figures show more than 40,000 Scottish homes have photovoltaic solar systems installed. There is a similar number in Wales, but more than 500,000 in England.

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Despite having less than 10 per cent of the capacity, homes in parts of Scotland were the top producers of solar power across the country in the past few days.

A report from the renewables website WeatherEnergy showed solar-powered households in Inverness, Wick and the Aberdeen region would have produced massive surpluses of energy due to the sunny conditions on Thursday.

Homes in Inverness were able to generate 158 per cent of the electricity needs of an average household. This compares to the top spot south of the border, in Falmouth, with 124 per cent.

The news comes as solar-powered homes, commercial rooftop schemes and solar farms were opened to the public for Solar Independence Day yesterday. At the same time a schools project run by climate change charity 10:10 has been celebrating the 1,000th solar panel to be installed on a school roof in England to save money and carbon.

“It has been amazing to see schools all over the country benefiting from the power of the sun, especially in this weather,” said Cecily Spelling, solar schools project manager for 10:10.

“With 1,000 panels now installed, it’s only going to grow.”

Locations ranging from a stately home in Aberdeenshire to a solar farm in Cornwall yesterday and today displayed their power installations as part of solar independence day.

The solar industry has set out how it believes the UK can double the amount of solar power generated and make it as cheap as fossil fuel electricity by 2020.

An ambitious programme to deliver two million homes with solar schemes, 24,000 commercial rooftops and 2,000 solar farms by 2020 and providing 56,900 jobs would cost around £13.35 on the average energy bill by the end of the decade, the industry claims.

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Though it would cost £350 million more than the government’s planned spending of just under £1.2 billion in 2020, industry experts argue it would deliver around twice as much solar capacity as current policies and would lead to solar being free of subsidies.

While solar panels are an intermittent source of power, a new generation of batteries has been developed to allow electricity from the sun to be stored for use in the evenings.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, said: “Solar really gives power back to the people, allowing households and businesses to generate their own clean, green electricity.At more than 80 per cent public support, solar has been shown in government opinion polls to be the country’s most popular form of energy.”

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Solar is an integral part of the UK’s energy mix.

“It’s great to see industry initiatives like this boosting confidence and take-up, so hardworking families and businesses can benefit from low-carbon energy and lower bills.”

Juliet Davenport, chief executive of the Good Energy solar farm in Bude said: “Solar power in the UK is an astonishing success story. Five years ago solar hardly existed in the UK, so it’s amazing to see that today over 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity is produced by solar.”

She added: “And best of all, it doesn’t pump carbon into the atmosphere.”