The Government is set to make huge investments into renewable energy to meet its 2050 net-zero target, but which energy source will help it get there?
According to figures in the Committee on Climate Change’s June 2020 progress report, the UK has made some positive steps towards cutting down its environmental impact. Investments being made by the UK Government indicate that, at least for the time being, it feels that wind power is the way to meet their ambitious goal.
Large scale wind and small scale solar?
In order to meet its net-zero target, the Government will have to decide which energy sources to invest in, taking in to account their environmental, but also financial impact. While there has been a growth in solar usage in smaller communities such as individual homeowners or on entire streets, it would be difficult to scale to a national level. Due to the climate and weather conditions in the UK, it has been reported that it would take as much as 30 years for solar infrastructure to recover the costs of installation, whereas it would take around half that, between 15 and 20 years, for a wind farm to do so.
However, with the cost of solar panels falling by a quarter in the last six years, there are benefits to investing in the energy source on a smaller scale. Solar panels are much more versatile and adaptable, and there have been several new build homes in the south-west of England that have panels installed and are recording over 4,000kg of CO2 savings annually.
With the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic felt by many, some experts fear that interest in more renewable, but expensive, energy sources may also take a hit, as businesses turn to more traditional and cheaper energy sources.
Seemingly, to combat this, the Government have announced an £160m investment into upgrading the UK’s wind power capacity, a stark contrast to investment being put into other options, such as solar. As of June of 2019, wind power comprised 20% of the UK’s energy production, with solar only accounting for 6%. This investment sits alongside the November announcement of the Green Jobs Taskforce that aims to create two million green jobs by 2030 that is seeking to create a skilled workforce to assist the UK’s transition to net-zero energy sources.