Renewable Energy Sources: Why Solar and Farm Diversification is set to boom in the 2020s.
A sustainable and carbon-free future can only be achieved through more renewable energy development. With the UK being the first developed economy to legally set itself the target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, there is likely to be more investment and more development in this field. Solar development and farm diversification go hand-in-hand and there is going to be a lot of synergy between these two sectors in the 2020s.
The importance of solar energy in forging a sustainable future cannot be overstated. Not only is it a sustainable method of generating energy to power the UK, it’s also a fantastic way to add value to your land.
Right now, just 3.4 percent of the UKs yearly energy usage comes from solar panels. That said, solar energy is now the fastest growing energy sector. The cost of solar energy is beginning to fall as renewable energy becomes more accessible for the general public which will incidentally lead to further solar farm development.
Solar Energy How it Works
Solar panels are made using a number of solar cells, each with a positive and a negative layer. Just like a battery, these layers create an electrical field and, when conductors are attached to either end of the cell, an electric circuit is formed.
When photons from the sun hit the solar cells, electrons and atoms are split apart and energy is released. These electrons flow through the electrical circuit created by the conductors and solar cells, generating electricity. The more solar cells there are, the more solar panels there are, and the more electricity is generated.
Solar panels generate DC (direct current) electricity, which means the power flows in one direction. That said, the UK’s National Grid uses AC (alternating current) electricity, which means the electrons are pushed and pulled in alternative directions. Therefore, the solar energy must then be converted using a solar inverter.
These days, micro-inverters are tailored to individual solar panels, ensuring that every panel can function at its optimum level. This way, if one solar panel fails to work, the rest of the circuit still functions.
Types of Solar Energy
If you’re thinking about harnessing solar energy from your land, there are two solar energy examples that would work great for you. These include:
Photovoltaic Solar Technology: this converts sunlight into electricity through solar panels.
Solar Thermal Technology: this uses similar panels which capture the sun’s thermal energy, converting it into heat. This heat can either be used directly, to heat houses, or converted into mechanical energy which can be used as electricity.
How big is solar in the UK?
If you follow the UK solar industry, you will have noticed that the accolade of the UK’s largest solar farm’ finds a new home almost every week. Whilst this is a symptom of the liberal use of superlatives by the media, it also points to the fact that commercial UK solar is booming.
With the end of the Government’s Feed-in-Tariff which paid solar panel owners for the energy that they produced, one could make the assumption that the future looks bleak for UK solar. However, this is absolutely not the case. Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 33,821 new PV installations across the UK, equalling an energy output of 1436MW. The UK’s total expected solar energy generation capacity is set to grow to 15,674MW by 2023.
The closure for new applications to the Feed-in-Tariff in March 2019 led to a slight decline in the development and installation of domestic rooftop solar. This decline, however, could have been magnified by the late rush to capitalise on the tariffs, skewing the figures. Despite this, there has not been a noticed decline in the development of ‘big solar’ or solar farms. To offset the effect of removing Feed-in-Tariffs, the UK Government introduced the Smart Export Guarantee to financially support smaller low-carbon generators.
Uses of Solar Energy
Solar energy can be generated for local use, or use on the National Grid. For example, civilians are able to build solar panels on their roof to power their home, alone. On a more individual level, people can also buy small gadgets, like backpacks with solar panels built in, which allow you to charge your phone on the go!
Energy harvested from solar panels, large and small scale, can be used for a myriad of jobs, for example:
Generating thermal energy to heat swimming pools or hot tubs.
Improving the efficiency of one’s own home.
Individual solar energy, which can be used to power small gadgets, like phones and watches.
Used to power small, individual lamps or lights in your garden.
Used to heat someone’s home.
On a larger scale, landowners with large plots of land can generate huge amounts of energy through solar panels. This can then be sold to the National Grid, making profits along the way.
Inspired by Renewable Energy Sources of the Future?
Do you think solar energy could be the solution to your land? At the Farm Business Innovation Show, we’ll be welcoming the companies who can help you diversify into this lucrative, yet sustainable, business. Get your FREE tickets to meet the people who can help you with your finances, planning permission, marketing, and installation!
Alternatively, if you think you could offer any of the above to a budding landowning entrepreneur, then come along and exhibit at next year’s show! Taking place at the NEC, Birmingham on 11th & 12th November, it’ll be an event to remember. Just get in contact with our Event Director, Reece Morris, using the details below:
Phone: +44 (0)117 929 6087
We look forward to meeting you, to help you boost your revenues!