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Why are we interested in solar energy?

Well, at the moment the world looks like it’s heading towards an ‘energy crisis’. We need to start looking very seriously into shifting from using fossil fuels, which cause pollution and are of limited supply, to using cleaner energy sources which are renewable. Approximately 34 billion tonnes of CO2 are produced annually from the burning of fossil fuels worldwide with electricity production accounting for just over 40% of this. It is estimated that it takes between 15 and 83 trees to convert 1 tonne of CO2 per year depending on the type of tree. This means that it could take between 200 billion and 1.2 trillion trees to remove the annual CO2 from electricity production.


But haven’t we already got large solar farms? Why don’t we just make more?

Yes, these solar farms do exist and can be found all across the UK and beyond. There are two main reasons why we don’t just make more of these solar farms: upfront cost, and storage infrastructure.

While solar farms last for approximately 25 years once installed and only need maintaining a couple of times a year, it is the upfront setup cost that limits how many farms that can be built. It is estimated to cost over £600,000 per megawatt. £200,000 of this comes from the solar panels themselves, with the rest coming from land costs, grid connectors and inverters. These figures can be hard to wrap your head around so for context, a 1 megawatt (MW) solar farm can generate enough electricity to power around 260 homes for a year!

On top of this, the infrastructure doesn’t exist for a fossil fuel-free world. The major benefit of fossil fuels is a consistent supply of electricity to keep up with demand. While we can produce more than enough electricity to meet our demands during the day, solar technology can’t produce anything at night. This means that large amounts of electricity needs to be stored for use at night and it is this infrastructure that is lagging behind.


Want to find out more about how solar energy works or about new technology being researched? Explore the pages in the menu on the left handside…