While it may seem like sunnier days are behind us, new research from renewable energy developer, Island Green Power, shines a light on the UK’s perceptions of solar energy, revealing that Brits feel the government isn’t taking the switch to renewable energy sources seriously enough.
A November poll of 2000 British adults commissioned by Island Green Power found that nearly half (44%) of those surveyed think the country’s energy needs should be served entirely by solar and wind power, with roughly two in five people (43%) baffled that we don't have more solar farms.
In fact, 47% of adults cannot understand why the UK needs to import energy from abroad, the research has found.
Dave Elvin, head of projects UK and Ireland for Island Green Power, said: ‘All year round solar energy is an essential and vital part of the UK’s energy mix – even during the winter when sunny weather might not be the first thing one thinks about in the United Kingdom.
‘We know that to hit the country’s net zero and climate change targets, boosting our solar and renewable energy capacity isn’t a nice to have – it is essential.
‘At risk of getting left behind, we must move quickly to help ensure energy security and combat climate change now and for tomorrow.’
One of the quickest and cheapest ways of expanding the UK’s homegrown energy is to expand solar power on low grade agricultural land that can’t be used for food production. Currently, solar sites occupy a very small proportion of UK land, taking up 0.1%, and government plans would take it to no more than 0.3% – providing about 12% of the UK’s energy needs.
To date, solar photovoltaic (PV) has generated 13,100 gigawatt hours this year. To put into context, that is the equivalent of powering every household in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff for the whole year – over four million households!
In 2022, total electricity production from solar PV amounted to 13,283 gigawatt hours, making up 4.4% of the renewable mix.
While over a third of those surveyed (39%) agree that solar is an essential part of our country’s renewable energy mix, over half (56%) are of the opinion that changes to the energy structure by the government should have been made a long time ago.
In fact, nearly one in two Brits (46%) don’t think the government is taking the switch to more renewable energy sources seriously enough.
As a result, almost half (47%) worry that the UK is getting left behind other countries when it comes to being proactive with renewable energy sources.
It also emerged that 57% want to see the UK move to renewable energy sources entirely within the next ten years or sooner, with a vast majority (82%) supporting an increased use of solar farms in our country.
The main reasons for this include reducing our dependence on other countries we import from (63%), helping to lower costs of energy (63%) and reducing air pollution (61%).
While two in three people (66%) think that by developing expertise in renewable energy like solar, we can create new export industries and generate economic security for the UK.
Dave Elvin added, ‘The shift from fossil fuels to renewables is both an environmental and economic imperative. But, despite the evident benefits – emission reduction, job creation, and lower energy bills – persistent planning obstacles hinder industry growth.
‘To achieve energy security for Britain and realise a sustainable energy future, we need planning reform and industry support to expedite the delivery of utility scale solar.’