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Solar power's contribution to the UK energy mix hit a new high in June 2016

Solar power use hits record high in UK

Solar power has hit new record highs in the UK, providing almost a quarter of the country's electricity at one point in June, analysis shows.

Analysis by MyGridGB for the Solar Trade Association (STA) shows that solar power hit a new peak, meeting 23.9 per cent of total energy demand in the early afternoon on 5 June 2016.

The solar industry estimates the country now has almost 12GW of solar panels, on homes, offices, warehouses, schools and other buildings and in solar farms - enough to power the equivalent of 3.8 million homes.

An estimated 800,000 homes have solar photovoltaic panels, which produce electricity from the sun, and 200,000 use solar thermal units to provide hot water, which means the UK has a million solar homes, the STA said.

The sector has been hit by major cuts to subsidies for solar panels, which have seen installation rates slowing substantially.

The industry is marking its third annual 'solar independence day', with the STA pushing to raise maintenance standards for the technology.

It is also highlighting how solar can protect homeowners and businesses from volatile energy prices by reducing both domestic bills and the need for energy imports.

Paul Barwell, chief executive of the STA, said: "The UK has successfully deployed almost 12GW of solar across the UK, providing nearly 25 per cent during peak generation.

"This is what the country and the world needs to decarbonise the energy sector at the lowest price to the consumer."

He said the Government's recent announcement it was adopting carbon targets for the period 2028 to 2030 that would require a 57 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 sent a good long-term signal on clean energy.

He added: "Solar independence day is about celebrating what a large group of small and medium-sized businesses can achieve in a short period of time.

"We now need just one more push from the Government to help the solar sector reach its objective of zero subsidy by the early 2020s."

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokeswoman said: "Our priority is to keep energy bills as low as possible for families and businesses whilst supporting low-carbon technologies that represent value for money.

"The solar industry still receives subsidies. However, the cost of solar has steadily declined over the last 10 years, so it is only right that as these costs come down so should the subsidies paid for through energy bills."

The government’s proposed solar panel tax increases were opposed by a cross-party group of MPs earlier this year.

Solar-power uptake in the UK has been boosted by the development of large solar farms on little-used arable land and also through its adoption by commercial operations, such as the new Lyreco logistics site in Telford, which has nearly 14,000 solar panels installed on its roof.

The combined contribution of all renewable energy sources (solar, tidal, wind and wave) has already supplied over a quarter of the UK’s energy generation, hitting a new high in March 2016.

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