Should we be moving towards Solar panels to avoid a UK Energy Crisis?

A new study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has suggested that under the current government policy, in ten years it will be almost impossible to meet the UK electricity demand.

The Engineering the UK Electricity Gap report reveals that new policies in place to discontinue coal fired power generation by 2025, together with a lack of replacement either by nuclear reactors or by gas-powered electricity plants, mean that the UK will face an energy gap. It predicts that the demand for electricity will exceed the supply by over 40% with estimates of up to 55%, according to the study. This could ultimately result in blackouts.

One solution to overcome this shortage in power supply could come from the solar industry. For over 20 years, the cost of solar panels has been an average 10 percent cheaper every year. Independent research carried out at the University of Oxford and published in the journal Research Policy, has compared technologies and predicted that this decrease will continue. The researchers have forecast that solar technology is likely to surpass its competition within the next 10 to 20 years. And they argue that despite the views of sceptics who claim that solar PV cannot be stepped up enough to play a significant role in combatting global warming, extrapolation of their findings suggests that solar PV and solar thermal could represent approximately one fifth of energy consumption by 2027.

One of the authors of the paper – which has been supported by both the European commission and the United States department of Solar Energy Technologies – thinks that this research helps make a case for the considering the growth of solar power supplies to direct the UKs clean energy policy.

Support for the favourable price of solar in the future comes from a country that is championing solar panel use - India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is moving towards clean energy to combat the effect that pollution is having on the population there. Following the adoption of solar panels in India, solar power is already cheaper than coal in some areas.

In summary, the UK needs to carefully direct how we power up the country in a way to combat climate change, and solar power could offer an environmentally sound, and cost effective solution.