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Celebrating solar power on the summer solstice

It’s the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. More sun means lots of solar power (hurray), so we’re taking the chance to celebrate this fantastic renewable technology.

Solar power makes up 24% of the electricity we supply to our members, and is an important technology helping us all to lower carbon emissions. This month, the UK went two months without coal - a BIG achievement. As we’ll see in this post, solar has been playing a bigger and bigger part. Here are some recent solar moments worthy of celebration.

Solar is the world’s fastest-growing energy technology

By the end of last year, the world's installed solar power had jumped to about 600 gigawatts (GW). And even with the disruption caused by Covid-19, we’ll probably add another 105 GW of solar capacity worldwide this year. The world’s total solar installations are expected to grow by another 142 GW in 2020 - an amazing 7 times the amount from just a decade ago. 

The sun made 4% of the UK’s electricity in 2019

Okay, so it’s fair to say wind, bioenergy and hydro power is more... abundant in the UK (ahem), but solar still has an important part to play in driving the switch to renewable energy. 

The sun made 4% of the UK’s electricity last year. Data: BEIS Energy Trends 2019

And it’s working. So far this year, renewables have generated more power than all fossil fuels put together. 10 years ago, only 3% of energy on the grid came from renewables like wind and solar. When Bulb started, the figure was 25%. Today, it’s 38%.

More people switching to green energy helps drive the market for renewables like solar. And as more people switch, we’ll need more renewables to meet demand. 

It was the sunniest April on record

This past April was the sunniest on record in the UK, with an average 224.5 hours of sunshine, beating the previous record of 211.9 hours in April 2015. The solar power industry reported its highest ever production of electricity (9.68GW) in the UK at 12.30pm on Monday 20 April 2020. It’s just a shame many of us were indoors.

The UK’s biggest solar farm just got the go-ahead 

A huge solar site was approved last month, and will soon stretch across 900 acres on the north Kent coast. It’ll be big enough to supply power to 91,000 homes, and avoid up to 70,000 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere every year. 

Not only that, but it’ll do it with no subsidies, at a low cost, and could earn £1 million for local councils every year that it’s running.

The UK is the eighth largest producer of solar power in the world

Not bad for a small rainy island. In 2019 the UK generated 12,677 GWh solar power, up from just 40GWh in 2010. Only China, the US, Japan, Germany, India, Italy and Australia produce more solar power.

At 5MW capacity, Five Oaks Solar Park avoids 2,455 tonnes CO2 emissions every year. Photo credit: Above Surveying.

Bulb’s solar generators are working overtime

Last year, solar made up 24% of our fuel mix. We work with 18 solar sites dotted across the UK, from Devon, Cornwall and Somerset in the West Country and Hampshire and West Sussex in the south, to Shropshire and Monmouthshire in Wales. Together they add 60 megawatts (MW) of capacity to the grid, and avoid 30,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

We also buy solar power from our members with solar panels. It all contributes to the 100% renewable electricity all our members enjoy.

And there’s even more solar power on the cards

As well as the mega solar farm being built in Kent, another even bigger site is being planned in the East of England.  It could eventually cover an area the size of 900 football pitches and add 500 MW to the grid.

We think they’re all huge reasons to celebrate. And you never know, a spot of sun worship may even coax it to come out all day.


Got a good sun stat? Or a question about our solar power? Join us in the Bulb Community.