Opinion: we must focus on what we are doing right

Dunsfold solar farm. Photo credit: Lightsource Renewable Energy.
By guest contributor Nick Boyle
Friday’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) debates the speed and impact of climate change. But whilst the exact science is analysed, the UK has fast been moving away from fossil fuel investment towards clean energy production, we must focus on what we are doing right.  Earlier this year carbon dioxide briefly reached 400 parts per million in the atmosphere. This is 40% higher than before the industrial revolution. We must not stand by, but work to deploy clean power as fast as we can. Regardless of the exact speed of climate change, we must shift to a clean economy fast
The green economy made up an astounding third of the UK’s growth last year1. One sector at the forefront of this growth is large scale solar power stations, with 2952 solar farms built in the UK over the past three years, expected to total 300 this month. It is this is fast paced, clean technology growth that we should be discussing, not concerning ourselves with the debate on just how fast climate change is happening. British companies like ours are working hard to create a new, clean, energy independent era that will create thousands of jobs, provide energy security and a save millions of tonnes of CO2.
Lightsource Renewable Energy is the UK’s largest solar energy generator. We began deploying solar power stations in 2010, our 150 strong team has already installed over a third of the country’s solar farms, investing over £0.5bn in the process. 320MW of our farms now power the equivalent of 104,500 homes. And we will work tirelessly to deploy many MW more, to secure energy prices for the UK. Solar photovoltaics alone are expected to contribute up to 20GW of the UK’s power by 2020, enough to power over six million homes.
Let’s stop debating how fast we’re heading in the wrong direction and instead focus on what we know to be an intelligent, secure future. We must set our sights on the vital clean technology tools being deployed and encourage more companies to take part in building a thriving clean, energy independent Britain. Amongst all the power generation technologies solar power is cheap and quick to deploy, furthermore the installation of a solar farm does not harm the land area it sits on. This is a home grown asset with immense potential, a vital part of the nation’s energy mix. Both the public and businesses are calling for it.
Key statistics:
  • There are currently 295 solar farms in the UK1  and another 355 scheduled to be built over the coming year
  • There a 482,000 solar installations across the UK’s roofs and land in total
  • Solar is the public’s favourite source of renewable energy, 81% of the public want more in the UK3
  • Renewable energy accounted for 12.3 per cent of the UK’s power in Q1 2013. Solar accounts for 3.2 per cent of this4
  • The UK has climbed into the top six solar PV markets after a record-setting first half of 2013 saw the industry install 802MW
  • The average solar farm takes less 24 weeks to build, compared to five to ten years  for a nuclear power station
  • If the UK reaches its target of 20GW of installed solar by 2020 this will only use 0.2 per cent of UK land area and produce the equivalent to ten medium-sized gas power stations or 2,000 large wind turbines5
  • Solar farm’s typically cover between one and 100 acres and generate at least 1MW. Approximately 25 acres is needed for 5MW of installation5.
  • Lightsource Renewable Energy is expecting to install a total of one gigawatt of generating capacity over the next three years this will power 303,000 homes and save 430,000 tonnes of CO2
  • The green goods and services market grew nearly five per cent to £128bn in 2011/121

Nick Boyle is the CEO of Lightsource Renewable Energy, the UK’’s largest solar energy generator currently operating the largest fleet of solar plants in the country. Recent calculations show that the company operates one in eight solar PV panels in the UK.

Related news:
IPCC delivers darkest warning yet on man made climate change
Walmart goes Solar
2013 could be a bright year for renewable energy

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