Solar power hits new highs in the UK

Solar panels on the BedZED development in the London Borough of Sutton.

Solar power provided almost a quarter of the UK’s electricity at one point in June.

The solar industry estimates the country now has almost 12GW of solar panels, on homes, offices, warehouses, schools and other buildings and in solar farms – enough to power the equivalent of 3.8 million homes.

Research MyGridGB for the Solar Trade Association (STA) shows solar power hit a new peak of meeting 23.9 per cent of demand in the early afternoon on June 5.

An estimated 800,000 homes have solar PV panels that produce electricity from the sun, and 200,000 that have solar thermal units to provide hot water. This means the UK has a million solar homes, according to the STA research.

The industry is marking its third annual “solar independence day”, with the STA pushing to raise maintenance standards for the technology. It is also highlighting how solar can protect home owners and businesses from volatile energy prices by reducing bills and reduce the need for energy imports.

Iif the technology is given stable support, it could thrive without subsidies in just a few years, the STA said.

STA chief executive Paul Barwell said the government’s recent announcement it was adopting carbon targets for the period 2028 to 2030, which would require a 57 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, sent a good long-term signal on clean energy.

“We now need just one more push from the government to help the solar sector reach its objective of zero subsidy by the early 2020s,” he said.