The past weeks have been an exciting time for renewable energy, beginning with the Government’s new 10 Point Plan, which is an ambitious step towards the UK achieving net-zero by 2050. This initiative will seek to advance offshore wind, supporting 60,000 jobs, drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen, deliver new, cleaner nuclear reactors and accelerate the shift to zero emission vehicles.
It also sets in motion redoubled efforts to invest in green public and private transport, ‘jet zero’ and green ships, as well as greener buildings, with a goal of 600,000 heat pumps installed each year by 2028, and carbon capture, usage and storage, aiming to capture 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030.
What’s more, the Plan aims to ensure protection of our natural environment and a renewed push for green finance and innovation, beginning with planting 30,000 hectares of trees per year. A significant £12billion of government investment and up to three times as much from the private sector will also be mobilised to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs.
In taking these steps forward, however, we cannot lose sight of the bigger picture and the measures already in train to help the UK meet environmental targets. This includes sectors such as solar power, which I recently wrote should play an important role in our greener future following the news that Britain will issue its first sovereign green bond. In the days following the launch of the Government’s 10 Point Plan, we have also seen the Government include solar power in a new round of Contracts for Difference (CfD), set to launch next year.
The inclusion of solar in the fourth round of CfDs is an important step in bolstering the renewable energy market, in which developers face considerable upfront costs and volatility in price. In fact, while also helping to protect consumers during periods of high energy costs, CfDs will incentivise investment in solar over long project lifetimes by offering direct protection from changing wholesale prices and ensuring robust, stable returns at the point of sale.
A promising and exciting development for the next CfD round, it is clear to see why the programme has now been expanded to include solar power. We need only look at the numbers to see why it remains a reliable, time and cost-efficient source of renewable energy. Indeed, a wind turbine in an area with an average daily wind speed of 10mph will produce approximately 2.8kWh per day – the equivalent of only eight solar panels, which require significantly less planning and construction resource. Moreover, solar is a market in which the UK has become a notable global player, having expanded its capacity from a mere 12 megawatts in 2006 to over 13,000 megawatts last year.
Great efforts in solar investment also continue to be made across the UK by both big business and on an individual scale, with a hugely positive effect on our progress towards a green future. At Kajima Partnerships, we are proud to be part of the change, through our own investment programme, recognising the appetite for green investment opportunities by governments across Europe.
Not only are we looking forward to watching this space, moving forward Kajima Partnerships is seeking to collaborate with UK landowners and Low Carbon Alliance to harness the UK’s unexpectedly good irradiation levels with ground-mounted solar farms. By doing so, we will be looking to invest in various clean energy projects and involve ourselves in the decarbonisation of the UK’s power supply.
Ultimately, although the UK Government’s plan is definitely a step in the right direction, there is still much more to be done financially and politically if we are to achieve a greener future.
In particular, more detail on what role the new mooted National Infrastructure Bank could play in supporting this would be welcome, as would ensuring that alongside transformational projects we also pursue quick wins which the UK is well placed for.
So yes, we should celebrate the commitments the UK is making with the 10 Point Plan, but we should also continue to embrace the potential of areas like solar.