Installing Solar Panels in UK Communities
Solar panels in UK communities have become an increasingly popular form of renewable energy as people move away from fossil fuel energy. In the first half of 2022, new wind and solar met 77% of the increased demand, with hydropower filling the gap. And these numbers are continuing to rise. The benefits of solar power energy are clear- it reduces carbon emissions and can reduce your home’s electricity bill. You can sometimes get reductions or credits for having renewable power.
The growth of installing solar panels in UK communities is currently around 4% per year. The UK solar market is expected to grow in the coming years. By 2030, it is estimated that solar panels could generate up to 20% of the UK’s electricity.
In 2022, the UK installed a record 1.1 GW of solar capacity. This was an increase of 80% from the previous year. The number of solar panel installations in the UK has increased by more than 50% in the past five years, and the average UK household can now save around £200 per year on their energy bills.
Like anything, it has disadvantages, such as the high initial costs of installing panels, storage can be expensive, and the panels don’t work on every roof type. The costs can turn people away from renewable energy despite their goals to help combat climate change.
In London, England, two artists wanted to make solar energy accessible to their entire neighbourhood. The Waltham Forest borough where they live experiences the third highest level of fuel poverty (unable to afford to heat their homes to an adequate temperature in the capital. Moreover, many houses on the street were built in the Victorian era, are poorly insulated, and use more energy.
They have raised money by crowdfunding in interesting ways, such as spending three cold winter weeks sleeping on the roof of their house. Their community movement, the Power Station, aims to install solar panels on 150 Victorian terraced houses on their street. The couple raised over $140,000 USD to install solar panels on dozens of homes in north London.
Installing solar panels in UK communities will help citizens and their neighbours reduce their electricity bills by 70 percent. Moreover, these community projects tend to be more efficient than individual solar installations as costs will fall with scale.
The first phase of the solar panels’ installation was installed by Octopus Energy, an energy supplier committed to helping provide communities with renewable energy. Octopus Energy is more interested in helping people in the UK than making a profit and therefore charges the lowest rates to install solar panels. This helps increase accessibility all over the UK and other countries worldwide.
This was only phase 1 of the street action, and the Power Station project is working hard on developing a “street by street” plan that can evolve and adapt to other streets and communities. They hope to be able to install solar panels in UK communities and school buildings as well. In 2022, they launched a crowdfunding project to help raise money for the Barn Croft Primary School in Waltham Forest to be able to majority own the solar panels installed in their school.
Owning the solar panels secures future energy security, which makes the school a little power station with the ability to budget for regularly reduced outgoings on heat and light. Solar panels are also a tool for learning about climate change and sustainable energy.
The artists hope that they can inspire others to drive community action around the UK, which will help reduce electricity bills and reduce carbon emissions.