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Explore the potential of solar energy

Ignore what happened to Icarus –
there has never been a better time to chase the sun

Improving technology, a change in planning laws and a desire to move to renewables means now is the time to explore solar energy.

Published: 20/02/2024

A changing energy market and updated regulations mean the benefits of having your own solar energy system really are out of this world.

By Bill Friar, Energy Consultant.

How well do you remember your Greek Mythology? The 12 tasks of Hercules… Jason and his golden fleece… the Odyssey… All staples of Primary School reading projects – along with the famous fable of Icarus. You remember, the man who, in an attempt to flee his captors in Crete, made wings from feathers and wax and attempted to fly. Poor Icarus, he underestimated the power of the sun and came a cropper. While the analogy may be being stretched a little, it’s fair to say that the power of the sun is still misunderstood today. And that’s especially true when it comes to drawing energy from that power. An increasingly-volatile energy market causing price fluctuations, advances in technology and changes in planning law, means there has never been a better time to start understanding.

A changing landscape

Let’s look at some facts.

None of us need reminding that energy prices are high. Geopolitical issues have forced costs to soar and, for many, it has hastened the desire to look beyond fossil fuels. Admittedly, and thankfully, the surge of 2022 has been calmed. However, leading industry analysts, Cornwall Insight, still predict that prices will remain above average to 2030 and beyond. Understandably, that background, and the global desire to reduce the reliance on oil and gas is leading to a welcome change in the energy landscape.

At the COP28 Climate Conference in Dubai last year, 130 national governments agreed to work together to treble the world’s renewable energy generation capacity by 2030. We’re already seeing the change occur. Renewable energy production increased by almost 50% in 2023, and it’s expected to carry on growing 14% per year until 2028. Couple that with an ever-increasing desire to reduce carbon emissions and the case to explore renewable options, including solar energy, is hard to ignore.

Solar’s never been easier

It’s at this point that you may think there’s a catch. Some kind of block, a mountain of red tape, or just too much inconvenience associated with solar energy. In all honesty, that was perhaps the case before, but now like the mood and landscape, the times they are a changing.

At the end of last year, the UK Government announced a crucial change to planning laws that had been something of a roadblock. Whereas installations of more than 1megawatt had required full planning permission, now they don’t. With the red tape no longer in place, solar suddenly becomes a much more appealing – and realistic – option for many.

Solar technology is changing too, with lighter, more flexible arrays available meaning sites that weren’t previously suitable, now are. We’ve even put solar panels on a van!

You’ve caught the sun 

So, the desire for action is there. The red tape has been removed. The technology is now better than ever. And there is financial assistance available that will not only ease the investment but ensure that it is paid back and making you money within a few years. But there is something much bigger to consider.

Last year was the first on record that our planet exceeded the 1.5 Celsius temperature increase that was the key component of the Paris Climate Accord agreed back in 2015.

According to the EU Climate Service, temperatures increased by 1.52C between February 2023 and January 2024. The same survey showed that our planet’s oceans are warming at a worrying rate and are at their warmest ever. All the warning shots that were part of the Paris Climate Accord are now coming to pass.

It means the time for thinking has passed, it’s now time to act. We simply cannot – and must not – have an energy strategy that is reliant on fossil fuels. Renewables like solar must be part of the long-term solution for us all.

The good news is that solar energy is a very real and viable option. And one that really can make a significant difference.


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