Recently, the European Union (EU) reached an agreement in which 15% of the union’s electricity would be generated with renewable energy sources by the year 2020. One such renewable is solar energy, and the United Kingdom has taken the EU’s plan and created its own guidelines.
Under the EU’s energy policy, countries such as Spain, Germany, and Luxembourg took an incredible initiative in maximizing solar enrgy. For the year 2008, the wattage in each country per capita was 75, 65, and 50 watts respectively. The UK slotted in at number 18 with 0.4 watts per capita. Understanding the importance of remaining relevant in relation to countries with higher ratings, the United Kingdom’s government has set a goal to produce 20% of the nation’s electricity by renewable energy means in or before the year 2020. This is even more ambitious than the EU’s goal of 15%.
Until 2008, solar energy was not seen as commercially attractive due to inconsistent and insufficient sunlight. Solar cells generally require high levels of sunlight in order to produce electricity, and the UK is maintains a relatively insolate, meaning lacking in sunlight, climate. In June of 2008, the UK government announced a substantial aid and incentive package to developers and suppliers of solar energy power. This same agreement called for feed-in tariffs for homeowners interested in generating their own electricity.
This tariff would allow residents to sell any overabundance of electricity back to the government or suppliers at a premium rate. The resold electricity would then be fed back to the power grid, powering additional homes and businesses. In the technical sense of the term, this is not strictly a tariff, but simply a way to distribute excess energy in order to benefit a wider array of people.
Solar energy also received a boost in the United Kingdom when the Green Energy for Schools program announced that 100 schools across the nation would receive solar panels for their buildings. One school, the Tavernspite School in Wales, has already received panels worth £20,000.
As the nation continues to turn its attention toward the advancement of renewable energy sources, the United Kingdom includes solar energy in its plans. Though the hours of ideal sunlight are not abundant in that area of the world, the UK has the technology and the desire to overcome that obstacle and be a leader not only in renewable energy utilization, but solar energy use as well.