Solarcentury :In the next six years, businesses lead the green economy; and UK solar goes international
Six years ago, it would have been hard to conceive of 10GWp of solar installed in the UK. But today, the UK is now the largest national solar market in the EU and solar is commonplace in our cities, towns and villages. There are now approaching one million homes being powered by solar in the UK.
Over the next six years and despite the best efforts of the new government to undermine our sector, there are grounds for optimism. These include declining solar costs, public concern for the environment at an all-time high catalysed by the Paris climate change talks, and solar continuing to top the British public’s list of most preferred renewable technology. British people like solar, and want to see more of it.
It’s not just people that “get” solar. Businesses will be a crucial factor, arguably the biggest single important factor, in driving forwards the growth of solar into the 2020s. Global brands such as Unilever are adopting new energy strategies to source all of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The next six years will see the business world fully embracing clean technologies to the point where energy and carbon reduction strategies will be at the very heart of every business strategy.
This is reflected in organisations such as re100, comprising a range of high profile companies who have committed to source 100% of electricity by a specified year. When people like IKEA’s CEO Steve Howard declare “Renewable energy is the future”, others should take notice.The next six years will also see more global and national brands getting creative about their commitments and achievements. Apple has already designed sleek ads illustrating its commitment to solar, whilst Disney incorporated solar into its own brand image by installing 48,000 solar panels in the form of the iconic Mickey Mouse head.
The global presence and communications reach of many of the world-leading brands who are adopting renewables will create a sustainable platform to spread renewable technologies around the world. Solar in particular will grow in literally every corner of the globe and at every scale – from handheld devices that charge mobile phones, to the very largest solar farms.Solar growth internationally will inevitably also present opportunities to British companies. So while the utility scale market stutters to a halt in the UK for example, British expertise and innovation is now being exported to countries such as Kenya and Chile. That these systems can increasingly work without subsidy is testament to the several decades of innovation that solar has already delivered, reducing costs while increasing efficiencies, to a point where solar can compete with grid energy in a growing number of markets around the World.
The financial case for solar is now irrefutable in a way that even six years it was not – and businesses get this. It’s going to be an exciting six years.