Closing the Electricity Gap: How Solar Power Can Prevent Electricity Shortages

10th July, 2024

The future of energy supply in the United Kingdom has reached a critical juncture. The difference between the country’s energy demand and the supply available is widening. At our current trajectory, this ‘electricity gap’ could cause 28 hours of blackouts in the year 2035.

The war in the Ukraine taught us how vulnerable our dependency on fossil fuels makes our nation. And the climate change we’re already experiencing demonstrates the great risk of maintaining the status quo. The only viable solution to closing the electricity gap is a significant commitment to renewable energy. Solar power, as the cheapest renewable, offers a path forward if we can get beyond the bureaucratic hurdles and market inertia that stand in our way.

We must start consenting on projects and pushing the market on renewables, or the reality of blackouts is very real.

The Solar Power Policy Problem

Thanks to advances in technology, solar panels in the UK can generate renewable and inexpensive electricity despite our cloudy climes.

However, deployment of potential solar power projects is hampered by the bureaucratic process involved in obtaining consent. Planning permissions, environmental assessments and local opposition can delay projects for years. Our leaders, recognising the magnitude of the looming climate and energy crises, must streamline these processes.

Achieving consent for renewable energy projects must be simplified to meet the country’s growing energy demand and to fight climate change.

Incentivise Renewables

The energy sector requires financial incentives and market structures that prioritise renewable sources over traditional fossil fuels. Favourable tariffs for solar energy and subsidies for solar installations will foster a competitive market for renewable energy. The UK must also invest in grid infrastructure to support the integration of solar power and other renewables so that we can achieve future stability and reliability in our energy supply.

The Cost of Delay

The only way forward is to create as much renewable energy as possible, as soon as we can. Even if climate change were not a looming threat, we cannot rely on foreign sources of fossil fuels without risking unsustainable surges in energy prices. We must transform the grid to clean energy only, but we need significantly more if we are to avoid future blackouts – and with them, disruptions to daily life and negative economic impacts on businesses and essential services.

Falling back on fossil fuels to fill the electricity gap would be even more devastating, exacerbating the impact we’re already experiencing of record high temperatures and heavy rains that ruin crops, homes, health and the economy.

The Urgency is Real

Policymakers, industry leaders and the public must understand that there is no Plan B. Climate change is already causing devastation around the world and close to home. We must change – and solar power is the fastest, cleanest, cheapest form of renewable energy we can generate.

We need policy reforms that streamline the consent process and support the market for renewables. We need investment in necessary infrastructure and upgrades to the grid. Any delay risks making future blackouts and climate change not just a possibility, but an inevitable reality.