How Green will Britain be by 2030?

26th February 2020 | Commercial Energy

Looking back over the 2010s, solar PV capacity in the UK increased from virtually nothing to 12GW in just 10 years. At the beginning of that decade, PV didn’t pay for itself and was reliant on feed-in tariffs to make the economic case.

Now in 2020, it’s the cheapest way of providing electricity to a building, even without financial incentives. If the industry can grow as fast as it has done when the economics were still maturing, imagine what might happen now it’s genuinely cheaper than buying electricity from the grid?

Green Britain

Furthermore, there seems to have been a cultural shift in the last year or so – Greta Thunberg, school strikes, Extinction Rebellion, David Attenborough, and the Australian bush fires have all raised climate change up the agenda (both for individuals and institutions). This raised awareness does seem to be translating into action: and getting solar PV is a quick, simple and profitable way of making large scale changes to one’s carbon footprint.

Solar PV is the cheapest way of providing electricity to a building – but there is a catch. A home solar system will be providing electricity at about half the price of grid electricity. For a commercial rooftop, electricity is being generated at about 1/3 the price of purchasing from the grid. The catch is, that you have to buy 25 year-worth up-front! So, although the lifetime economics are fantastic, the up-front cost remains a barrier.

Therefore, any policy changes implemented need to address the issue of upfront cost. What I’d really like to see is Government offering long term 0% loans to support solar PV, other renewables and energy efficiency measures within the home, to overcome the upfront cost hurdle. There would be a cost to Government by doing this – the money lost by people and businesses defaulting on the loans – but this would be more than outweighed by the national economic benefits of reducing energy costs.

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