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What Are The Latest Developments in Solar Energy?

Recent reports released by the UK government show that fossil fuel generation fell to a record low of 36.3% in March 2024. At the same time, production from wind, solar, and hydropower increased by 2%. 

The country’s last major coal plant is scheduled to shut by the end of 2024, and with renewable technologies recently overtaking coal in electricity generation capacity, solar is making a steady, continued rise. 

Stay with Project Solar to find out what’s going on in the world of solar. If you’re looking to incorporate the latest technologies into your home or business, remember to check out our products

  • Solar rooftop installations are at an all-time high

2023 marked a banner year for rooftop solar installations in the UK, hitting a 12-year high. The Guardian suggests this surge is closely linked to our country-wide efforts to combat rising energy costs. 

Over the last year, more homeowners have taken steps towards a greener future by switching to solar. Their collective action demonstrates the power of individual choices in driving change: installations skyrocketed to levels not seen since 2011!

More than 130,000 installations took place in 2023, and in 2024, this trend has only continued. In February alone, the UK government reported 14,045 installations: the highest since November 2023. 

Domestic installations represent the bulk of these figures, meaning more homeowners than ever are switching to solar. 

  • More schools around the UK are installing rooftop solar panels

Across the UK, a growing number of schools are installing solar panels to reduce their environmental impact. This trend reflects a wider move within the education sector to combat climate change. 

In Bradford, several schools have adopted solar panels, thanks to the Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust. This project, which will oversee the installation of panels on 17 schools, is set to save 390 tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere annually.

The ‘Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School’ in Lancashire has embarked on a similarly ambitious solar panel plan to increase its zero-carbon electricity generation. 

In London, Miles Coverdale Primary School in Shepherd’s Bush has recently installed 100 new solar panels, which are anticipated to improve the building’s overall efficiency rating. The project hopes to save 32 tonnes of CO2 a year (equivalent to planting 1,511 new trees!) 

These solar initiatives across the UK aren’t just about saving money or the planet; they are also powerful educational tools. Schools are using their installations as practical teaching moments for students to learn about energy, sustainability, and the science behind solar panels.

  • Researchers are looking for ways to speed up renewable energy production 

While positive statistics show that the UK currently has a 15.7GW solar power capacity, researchers at Friends of the Earth are looking for ways to accelerate the production of renewable energy in England, with a significant focus on solar power. 

Friends of the Earth suggests designating areas specifically for solar farms, especially on lower-grade agricultural land. These areas would not compete with prime agricultural spaces but still provide ample sunlight exposure for effective solar power generation.

There is also a strong push for updating building regulations to mandate solar panels on new residential, commercial, and public buildings. This would drastically increase the number of solar installations and boost overall energy production.

By introducing more robust incentives, such as grants or tax rebates for installing solar panels, researchers believe that accelerating adoption among homeowners and enterprises would increase.

  • UK start-ups are developing space-based solar farms for constant energy production 

In 2024, researchers and scientists aren’t just looking for on-land solutions to solar energy; they’re also looking up! 

UK start-up Space Solar has launched a groundbreaking project to collect solar energy directly from space and beam it back to Earth. 

The project, which has been in the conceptual stages for years, recently achieved a critical milestone by testing components that can withstand the harsh conditions of space. 

Scientists have conducted successful tests on solar panels designed specifically for space conditions. These panels need to capture solar energy and survive extreme environmental challenges, like cosmic radiation and severe temperature fluctuations. 

The result? Space Solar’s experiment demonstrated their potential to operate effectively in orbit!

While the project still has a long way to go before it becomes a reality, researchers are hopeful that overcoming these technological barriers will one day make space-based solar a viable option. 

  • Researchers have uncovered the benefits of solar farms for biodiversity 

A recent study published by Solar Energy UK has found that commercial, agricultural solar panel installations have more benefits than previously thought.

In collaboration with ecologists Clarkson & Woods, Wychwood Biodiversity, and Lancaster University, Solar Energy UK found that solar farms are contributing to biodiversity by creating habitats for a wide range of wildlife species. The land under and around solar panels often becomes a refuge for flora and fauna. 

Their report highlights instances where solar farms have led to increased sightings of species, including skylarks, brown hares, and a variety of bees and butterflies, which thrive in these protected areas.

Solar Energy UK’s study has shown that, while providing the agricultural sector with vast amounts of renewable energy, solar panels can also positively impact our planet’s wildlife. 

Join the Solar Takeover!

Our research into the world of solar energy is overwhelmingly positive. The UK is seeing increasing rates of solar installations only four months into the year, so we’re excited to see where the rest of 2024 takes us. 

If you want to learn more about incorporating solar energy into your life, contact us.