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Over 65% of homes in Britain can work for solar panels

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8 Jun 2023

Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince has released a report on how if we install solar panels on our rooftops we could slash our energy bills, cut our dependence on fossil fuels and it would bring us closer to energy independence. Sounds like a simple solution to us.

Dale explains more below:

“We know that Britain can become energy independent - by harnessing our abundant wind and sun to make the electricity we need and our grass to make gas. But what we didn’t know until now - was how big a role our homes could play.

Last year I appeared before the Environmental Audit Select Committee and was asked how much rooftop solar potential there is in the UK. I said I didn’t know and would find out, but I was later surprised to learn that the data didn’t exist. This meant that we didn’t actually know how big the opportunity was, so we decided to find out for ourselves.

Getting the data matters, it cuts through the prejudice and myths to show what we stand to gain. So, what does the data show? That by harnessing our rooftops we could make more than 13% of the electricity needs of the entire country, not just our homes but 13% of business needs too. This would cut our reliance on fossil fuels, lower household bills and move us closer to energy independence.

Solar stat

Our research found that over 65% of all homes in Britain can work for solar panels. Harnessing just these rooftops to make electricity from the sun could provide Britain with 35Billion units of green electricity every year, this is the same amount as we currently generate from all the windmills we have onshore. These are big numbers and so is the annual retail value – at pre-energy crisis prices the value of this rooftop harvest would be some £8Billion a year - at today’s prices it’s more like £16Billion. At the peak of the energy crisis it was more like £32Billion. Imagine how much money we could have saved, had we done this already.

A national rooftop solar program would have other benefits - not least job creation. It would also lower household energy bills significantly. And deliver an enormous amount of energy more efficiently - by making it where it gets used. This would avoid the 5% system losses that would otherwise be incurred - £500m worth of energy per year not wasted.

Making the energy our homes need on our own rooftops will reduce our dependence on energy companies and the global fossil fuel market. Excess energy can even be sold back to the grid. Our homes can be like mini power stations.

And speed is another big win from a rooftop revolution in solar - the queues to connect large scale generators to the grid right now are 10 to 15 years long, it’s a major constraint for big generation but not for micro - each house would hold just 5kW of solar capacity, fitting in more easily with the existing grid.

The opportunity is big and is available right now, but we’re not taking advantage of it. While we found that 50% of homes are perfect for rooftop solar, with another 17% having suitable East or West facing roofs, just 3.9% of homes currently have solar panels installed.

We need the government to wake up to the benefits, not block them. After years of cuts, in 2019 the Conservative government tore down the incentive scheme for household solar without any sort of replacement, which saw new installations collapse by 94% in a month.

We need a government that makes it easier rather than harder to install rooftop solar. A government that helps households lower their energy bills. And the country to make its own power.

If we’re serious about lowering bills and kicking our addiction to fossil fuels, then we need a rooftop revolution. We have the technology. We have the rooftops. The economics are on our side. Now we need a government that gets it.”

Read the report here.

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The Climate Clock is a version of the Doomsday clock that has been running since 1947 - this tracks the risk of global man-made disaster, through man made technology (like nuclear weapons) - displaying the minutes and seconds left before midnight, when disaster strikes. The climate crisis is a small part of the calculations made.
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