The UK is eyeing energy independence after record breaking energy prices from the pandemic and the recent Russian invasion into Ukraine. Crippling natural gas prices, with a sharp increase of 300% since the beginning of 2021, have caused 31 energy suppliers to go bankrupt, leaving 2 million customers vulnerable. To make matters worse, the UK had the least windy summer in 70 years, resulting in a wind production shortfall of 32% for energy leader SSE. Fossil fuels have filled the gap of this unexpected shortage, pushing the country further from its net-zero goals as well as causing energy prices to skyrocket.
Great Britain aims to have 95% of its electricity generated from affordable, clean, and secure energy sources by 2030. The Prime Minister’s British Energy Security Strategy includes 50 GW of offshore wind, 54 GW of solar (about 17% of UK’s projected electricity demand), 10 GW of low carbon hydrogen, 24 GW nuclear by 2050, increased onshore wind, and local oil and gas drilling from the North Sea. Boris Johnson remarks, “This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.” Through crisis, there is also opportunity.
Despite recent commitments to emissions reductions at COP26, the UK and USA are considering fracking and slowing down the coal phaseout as a solution to avoid Russian natural gas, oil, and coal imports. One year ago, the UK unveiled he world’s most ambitious climate target of 78% GHG reductions by 2035 compared to 1990; however, desperate times call for desperate measures, and unforeseen events have caused an “all bets are off” approach as countries scramble to devest from Russian energy imports.
Figure 1: Countries turn their back on COP26 agreements and consider fracking and coal as a path to energy independence
Drilling is not a long-term solution, or even short-term solution, rather, as it takes years to develop the permits and launch a project. For example, in the USA it takes over four years for companies to begin drilling after leasing, and for offshore the timeline is further stretched out by two to three years to build the rigs. Adding more nuclear, despite being net-zero, will not solve the short-term global energy market dilemma either as UK’s latest nuclear plant, Hinkley Point C, will take a total of ten years to build and has an estimated opening date of 2026.
Having an energy independence strategy is not only for countries looking to de-risk their energy mix from volatility but for organisations to consider as well. Installing solar is the easiest, cheapest, and quickest pathway to achieve energy security. With solar prices plummeting 50% in the past decade, solar power is currently the cheapest source of power in the UK at 6-7 pence versus 16 pence for grid electricity. With savings like this, there has never been a better time to go green and save big.
Figure 2: Rooftops are the most under-utilised real-estate on the planet, a perfect opportunity for solar
Both public and private organisations must evaluate how much of the rise in energy prices they can feasibly offload onto their customers. Quick and decisive action is necessary as each passing day is a lost opportunity to capture free and self-owned solar energy right on your rooftop – the most under-utilised real-estate on the planet. If every house in the UK were to install solar panels on their roof, solar would provide over 60% of all domestic electricity consumption. As the only modular energy generation technology, rooftop distributed solar can easily be scaled to meet future energy needs. A solar project can start with an investment as small as £5,000 and has a start-up time of only a few weeks.
Organisations already have the necessary rooftop space for solar – what they lack is the hard data to calculate its impact. While 100% reliance on solar is unrealistic, covering 30% of electricity costs is possible if planned, executed, and maintained properly. What does a properly planned solar project entail? First, the site must be selected based on optimal ROI and CO2 impact. This can be done with artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse thousands of sites in a few minutes by gathering satellite, solar, and weather data. Next, the construction must be managed and monitored properly to ensure the project stays on track without any unexpected delays or mishaps. Lastly, there is on-going maintenance during the 25-year life of the panels. Regular maintenance and performance checks are necessary in order to generate the projected electricity from the panels and meet the expected ROI.
Solar projects are incredibly complex, requiring months of detailed planning, strategy, professional engineering and financial analysis, solar expertise, and various expensive software for each stage of the project. PowerMarket is a software as a service (SaaS) company that saves organisations 90% of their time and resources by streamlining and simplifying the deployment of solar projects. The entire process from planning to maintenance is centralized in an easy-to-use, turn-key platform. Learn more: https://www.powermarket.ai/how-it-works.html