We know we need to transition away from polluting energy sources such as coal and fossil fuels, while at the same time we need to supply the growing energy demand with renewables. This is a major challenge. Newly released numbers from UK holds a lot of promise: In less than two years, the total solar panels output has grown with a factor higher than 40.
The reason for the tremendous growth is the feed-in tariff (FIT) that was introduced about 22 months ago. Also known as net metering, the FIT policy enables people to put excess electricity generation back on the power grid. This greatly influences whether or not solar will be a cost-competitive solution.
The costs of solar power have fallen about 30% since the FIT scheme was introduced back in April 2010.
Most renewable energy sources are unstable when it comes to energy output. Solar is a great example of this: How often is the weather forecast wrong or incorrect? This will certainly impact your solar panels.
Then there’s the variation in energy demand from the public and industry. Matching peak hour demand with energy supply would be impossible without energy storage. We need to store the excess energy that is generated from photovoltaics, so we can use this energy when we actually need it.
A way to do this is by the use of batteries. A much more efficient way is to use the utility power grid as a “battery”. What I mean by this is that instead of storing electricity as chemical energy in a battery (a quite inefficient process), we send it onto the utility grid where it can be used by your neighbor’s refrigerator in real time. This spins your power-meter in the opposite direction, in other words, allowing you to extract energy from the grid in the future for “free”.
Solar power is growing steadily in most parts of the world, but no other region comes close to UK when it comes percentage-wise growth. The higher purpose of a FIT policy is to accelerate the development of green and sustainable sources of energy.
UK is not necessarily the region in the world where the highest insolation rates are (accessibility to sunlight). This shows the importance of financial rebates and incentives when it comes to pushing renewable energy sources forward, which is absolutely crucial in fighting the climate crisis (Look at the advantages and disadvantages of non-renewable energy sources to learn more)
This article was written by Mathias, author of EnergyInformative.org, a site that focuses on renewable energy sources and energy conservation.