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The Future of Clean Energy: Solar and Energy Storage Leading the Way

24.06.2024
In an era where the global push for clean energy is more urgent than ever, Solar Energy UK (SEUK) has released its comprehensive manifesto outlining the necessary steps to ensure a sustainable, secure, and cost-effective energy future for the UK. As we navigate through climate crises, soaring energy bills, and a cost-of-living crisis, the manifesto offers a clear roadmap for harnessing the power of solar and energy storage to transform the UK's energy landscape.

A Vision for 2030 and Beyond

SEUK's manifesto emphasises the pivotal role of solar and energy storage in the UK’s transition to renewable energy. Currently, the UK has approximately 20GW of solar and 8GW of energy storage capacity. By 2030, SEUK envisions increasing these figures to 50GW of solar and 30GW of zero-carbon energy storage. This ambitious target aligns with the government's goal of achieving 70GW of solar by 2035 and the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendation for 60GW of short-term energy flexibility by the same year.

Key Actions for the Next Government

SEUK outlines five critical actions for the next government to support the solar and energy storage industries:

  1. Embrace UK Solar: Consistent national planning policies and swift decision-making on significant solar infrastructure projects are essential. Local planning authorities must align with national policies to reduce investment risks and expedite project approvals.

  2. Bring Solar to New Homes: Integrating solar technology in new buildings can significantly reduce energy bills and carbon footprints. Updating national building standards to support self-generation and storage will further aid in achieving net-zero targets.

  3. Turbo-charge the Network for Net Zero: Addressing constraints on the electricity transmission and distribution networks is crucial. Enhancing investment in network infrastructure and modernising grid management practices will ensure timely and cost-effective connections for new renewable energy projects.

  4. Build Skills for British Green Jobs: Developing a skilled workforce is vital for the growth of the renewable energy sector. Establishing regional Green Skills Hubs and providing government support for training and resourcing will create thousands of green jobs and bolster the UK’s clean energy industry.

  5. Implement a Renewables-First Approach to Market Reform: Ensuring renewable energy technologies have a level playing field with fossil fuels through fair market reforms, such as the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) and adjustments to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism, will attract investment and drive the deployment of clean energy.

Maximising Rooftop Solar Potential

Large-scale rooftop solar installations on commercial and industrial buildings offer a significant opportunity to decarbonise power consumption. Government support in addressing grid access concerns and setting ambitious solar installation targets on public estates can lead the way in harnessing this potential. Additionally, making solar technologies accessible to low-income households and supporting community projects will democratise the benefits of renewable energy.

Benefits for the Rural Economy and Biodiversity

Solar farms present a dual-use opportunity for the rural economy. Farmers can utilise unprofitable land for solar installations, providing a steady income while continuing to produce food. Moreover, solar farms can enhance local biodiversity, supporting wildlife and improving soil health. The government should recognise and encourage these benefits through appropriate planning systems and agricultural support mechanisms.

A Call for Immediate Action

SEUK urges the next government to publish an ambitious roadmap within the first 100 days, outlining clear targets and actions to achieve 70GW of solar by 2035. Swift implementation of this roadmap is critical to ensuring the UK remains a leader in the global clean energy race, attracting investment and securing a sustainable, energy-independent future.

Conclusion

The SEUK manifesto is a powerful call to action for the UK government and industry stakeholders. By embracing solar and energy storage, implementing supportive policies, and investing in infrastructure and skills, the UK can lead the way in the global transition to renewable energy. For training and recruitment companies like SERT, this presents a tremendous opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the burgeoning green economy, providing skilled workers and innovative solutions to meet the demands of a sustainable future.

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