Using the UK as a Case Study for Irish Renewables
Although we may not agree with everything that is done across the Irish Sea, we have to admire the UK’s commitment to renewable energy production. Through our sister company, Solar NI, we have been able to play a small part in the recently released figures that showed renewable energy accounting for more energy production than coal, for the first time in history.
The UK are no different to ourselves, in relation to clean energy production targets in 2020 and follow up targets in 2030 arising from the COP21 agreement in Paris of last year. What is different, is the highly incentivised subsidy support in the UK driving technologies such as solar into the mainstream in the past 10 years through numerous government driven schemes. Combine these subsidies with the reduced cost of solar pv and you have an astoundingly competitive electricity and energy production option, in your own home. For free!
With renewables playing such an important role in 2015, out-performing coal in the process, recent news surrounding the future cost of solar and wind in comparison to nuclear has had a direct impact on the development of the Hinkley Plant in the UK. A recent delay on its go ahead has shown that the predictions for renewables combined with their present efficiency has really started to impact the decision making processes at the very top. An unpublished government report in the UK has calculated how large-scale solar pv and wind power will be considerably cheaper to produce than nuclear by the time the aforementioned Hinkley plant is up and running. Figures revealed in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in the UK are forecasting large-scale solar power to cost between £50 and £75/MWh by 2025. Nuclear power on the other hand is expected to cost between £85 and £125/MWh by the same date. The UK government has already agreed a guaranteed purchase price of £92.50/MWh with developers of the Hinkley plant for the nuclear power produced.
This is an important development for us here in Ireland, as we look to our counterparts here in Europe for evidence of successful energy strategies. It is also important because of the electricity we import from the UK through the East West Interconnector that ultimately comes from these exact energy sources we have already discussed. In an ideal world, we would become self-sufficient through our own renewable energy infrastructure here in Ireland. The scope for which, with large-scale solar pv cheapening over time, is hopefully starting to prick a few ears at the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources in Dublin. We can at least take confidence from the success of solar farms in the UK, with the proliferation of such starting to gather pace here in Ireland, a small push from the government in relation to this could really give our own national grid a real shot in the arm. But we wait and see.
On a smaller scale, Part L regulations and the renewable energy aspect of such, has seen a lot of new housing developments take advantage of solar pv to bolster their green credentials while adding value to each property also.
All solar developments in the UK should be closely watched by the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources as it provides us with a solid case study in relation to how we should really start to engage with large-scale renewable energy projects with a view to both our 2020 and 2030 targets. We here at Activ8 Solar Energies can speak from experience when we say that the Irish people have been pushing it on a smaller scale for well over a decade. Our 7,000 installations to date prove such.