Solar energy reaches new milestone in the United Kingdom

October 6, 2016 0 By Erin Kilgore
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Solar power outpaces coal in energy production

Solar energy has reached a major milestone in the United Kingdom. Over the past six month, solar energy systems have generated more electricity than coal for the first time ever. An analysis from Carbon Brief shows that solar panels generated approximately $7,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity from April to September. This is approximately 10% more than the energy generated through the use of coal.

Production of solar power is quickly growing in the UK

This milestone highlights the UK’s increasing interest in solar energy and renewable power as a whole. April 9 represented the day when solar energy began marching toward this milestone. During that day, the United Kingdom did not have to use its coal power plants for the first time since 1882. Last year, solar energy capacity in the United Kingdom nearly doubled. While cuts in government funding did successfully slow this growth, the solar sector continues to expand throughout the United Kingdom.

Falling cost of solar energy makes it more attractive

UK Solar Energy MilestoneAccording to James Court from the Renewable Energy Association, solar power surpassing coal in terms of electricity generation would have been “unthinkable” only 5 years ago. Back then, solar panels were still quite expensive and many old photovoltaic technologies were considered inefficient. These two factors made solar power less attractive. In recent years, however, the cost of solar energy has fallen dramatically, making this form of clean power much more attractive and viable.

Homeowners show strong support for clean energy

Homeowners, in particular, are some of the biggest supporters of solar energy in the United Kingdom. Because of the falling cost of solar panels, many homeowners have been embracing these energy systems. These homeowners are also taking advantage of government programs meant to incentivize the adoption of solar power. Despite this growing support from homeowners, the rate at which new solar energy systems that were installed in 2016 was only a third of what was installed last year. This is largely due to dwindling financial support from the government.