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Solar farms shouldn’t be profitable as the cost to construct them often outweighed the price of electricity, yet the sight of a field of solar panels quietly harvesting the sun’s energy is already a common sight. The reason so many projects were built is because Government offered subsidies helped the technology compete in the energy market. Then a couple of years ago the subsidy schemes were aborted and the solar industry fell silent.
Thanks in part to the Government’s subsidy regime and the global move towards renewable energy, solar panel technology has continued to become cheaper and more efficient, so much so that large scale solar farms can now compete without any taxpayer support. We therefore find ourselves in the midst of a resurgence in the solar industry which is starting to out compete fossil fuels at their own game.
These new schemes often incorporate battery storage systems which can store power only to release it later in the day, helping to balance supply and demand in the network.
The downside of solar is the amount of land it requires, new schemes can cover almost 200 acres, but that land isn’t lost. Some farmers continue to graze sheep or keep free range chickens on solar farms, but increasingly the land is redesigned to become a haven for wildlife. The land can be seeded with wildflower meadows and used to create specialist habitats for rare species. The security fences can even help keep common predators at bay.
Some people consider them an eyesore, others argue against the need for renewable energy, but whatever your opinion, so long as solar is cheaper than fossil fuels, the technology is here to stay.
[team-member name=”Chris Thyer”]