8 February

The rising popularity of solar & renewables

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With the price of energy reaching record-level highs, more and more consumers are considering solar and renewables energy.

Solar farms are incredibly cost effective – “costing as low as £54 per MWh.” This contrasts significantly with the rate of power from gas, which remains at £85 per MWh and is estimated to not change until 2025. From a financial standpoint, there are benefits. But what will solar and renewable energy look like in the future?

According to Energy & Climate Intelligence, in one of their recent reports, utility-scale solar and battery storage in Britain offers an opportunity for managing intermittency, as well as providing space for other generators and services to operate. This ties in with our mission at Exagen, where we actively integrate opportunities for biodiversity to be enhanced through our solar farming models.

The benefits of battery storage

Battery storage is adaptable to both residential and utility scale projects, whilst being fully optimised for many electricity system applications. The battery creates a more dispatchable form of solar generation. On a residential scale, the storage can “shift surplus solar power for use in the peak demand period after sunset — for instance lighting, cooking, electric heating, hot water and other electrical loads”. This is ideal as the battery storage is consumed by one household, thus reducing additional imports for power. The battery operates in a self-sufficient format, allowing residential spaces and utility-scale projects to be less dependent on the grid.

Residential battery storage is growing, increasing the growth of solar power

Cumulative Capacity

“In the UK, utility-scale solar combined with battery storage is already cheaper than generation by gas, offering a cheaper opportunity for managing intermittency and balancing the power grid.” Supported by 74% of the public, renewable energy benefits are spreading across the UK.

Communities are also supporting wind developments

It’s worth looking at wind as a form of renewable energy too. “Onshore wind is one of the cheapest and quickest forms of energy and we can build it fast for communities that want it,” said Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Group’s generation arm.

Towards the end of last year, Octopus Energy announced that their Winder platform identified 2.3GW British onshore wind potential with local communities support. Zoisa continues: “It’s possible to build more wind turbines where people want them, helping to end our fossil fuel reliance, lower energy bills and unleash economic growth.” 87% of the public supporting a wind turbine being built in their community, as long as it was cheaper.

In a YouGov poll proposing the question ‘Should the government pay energy companies to develop wind power’, 74% answered yes (last updated: on 21st November 2022).

Source: YouGov.co.uk – Should the government pay energy companies to help develop wind power?

Furthermore, recent polls published by Survation, commissioned by RenewableUK, present the increased support from the public to build new wind and solar farms. With a view that this will tackle the cost of the energy crisis, the support is positively high.

“Voters in every single constituency in England, Scotland and Wales strongly support offshore wind, with approval ranging from at least 74% to 94%”.

Additionally, 77% of people throughout the UK are in agreement that the government should implement new solar and wind farms to aid the reduction of electricity bills, and 76% of people are content with the renewable energy projects taking place in their local areas. This highlights the fact that communities will get on board with energy projects, as long as there are significant benefits across the board – both personally and nationally.

To conclude, The Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) released Net Zero Review emphasising “there is no future economy but a green economy”. So will a green economy be intersecting solar and more renewable energy as part of this?

The renewables industry is continually developing and showcasing its environmental vantage points, particularly in solar and wind. Local communities too are in support, especially based on the cost effectivity of energy consumption.

On 10th January 2023 a new wind generation record was set with technology generating over 21.6GW. This showcases the vast potential surrounding renewable energy which we will continue to see throughout the upcoming year.

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