We can’t live our modern lives without energy, yet at the same time many people are furious when developers look to build energy generators in the local area. What’s the solution?
Thurrock council recently delayed granting approval on a 46 hectare, 75,000 panel solar farm proposed by BE Renewables Ltd, saying that they first needed to evaluate more flood risk reports. They are considering rejecting the application altogether in order to preserve ‘the flat character of the marshland.’
Meanwhile, Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd are looking to build two further smaller solar farms that’ll power more than 1,500 homes near Hackmans Lane.
It’s essential that we strike the right balance between meeting our energy needs and preserving our countryside.
Why we need more solar panels in Essex
To meet our energy demand we need to produce substantial amounts of energy. Unfortunately, the production of energy through fossil fuels creates dangerous byproducts, known as greenhouse gases. Climate scientists are in unanimous agreement that we need to transition to a low-carbon economy in order to prevent the most serious effects of climate change.
As solar technology develops, it becomes much cheaper to produce solar energy. The Solar Trade Association predicts that the cost of solar energy will be lower than the price of gas energy three to five years time.
Solar panels can be a vital component of our country’s energy mix, but we have to build them somewhere.
How can we minimise the impact of solar panels?
One way to minimise the visual impact of solar panels is to put them in a place that we don’t often use or look at.
Did you know that there is a quarter of a million hectares of completely unused southward-facing space in England with no ecological value whatsoever?
I’m talking about rooftops, of course, specifically factory and warehouse rooftops.
Putting solar panels on just these roofs would go a long way toward meeting the energy needs of homes across the country.
Remember, that’s only industrial roofs we’re talking about and only the southward-facing ones. Not a single blade of grass would be trampled. That’s not to mention public buildings such as schools or hospitals, or the million homes that already have solar panels installed.
The problem is that it is more expensive to put solar panels on roofs than it is to have them freestanding in a field. This means that companies like BE Renewables Ltd will continue to look for cheaper (but greener) places to install their solar panels, and councils like Thurrock will continue to delay.
It’s up to us as a country to decide what our priorities are – then put our money where our mouth is.