In the United Kingdom, higher powers are declining projects to supplement personal, professional, and global demands for renewable energy — specifically solar farms. Understanding the root of the refusals is vital to instigating forward-thinking change.
The climate conversation is desperately active, requiring governmental and citizen participation to meet the nation’s energy needs. All of this contributes to bettering the planet as a whole.
The Current Trend is Political
For the last five years, the UK government has been generous in allowing many solar farm projects to initiate, with only four projects turned down between 2017-2020. From 2021-2022, 23 projects were denied. The connecting thread — conservative-leaning constituencies are turning down the majority of projects.
Though the Paris Agreement outlines reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, it appears not to be a strong enough motivator for specific groups. If the solar farm produces more than 50MW, they have to have a stamp of approval from the Secretary of State, alongside a lengthy approval process.
With planning permissions so challenging to obtain, production is stilted. Some in green infrastructure may not submit requests out of futility, especially as national discussions become heated.
There is debate about the amount of land these sprawling farms use. Would they affect natural lands or hurt agriculture? Should the nation prioritize other adverse side effects over building these solar farms?
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The Inaccurate Perception of Solar Farms
New Prime Minister Liz Truss and other conservative leaders have stated that massive solar farms could threaten the country’s food production as it takes up so much space.
The rebuttal is that solar panels could be on household rooftops — out of the way of animals and farmers’ work areas. However, this does not consider class and income restrictions when community solar could offer more widespread coverage.
This is why few large-scale farms get started. Since systems discourage larger projects from activating, smaller projects are more enticing to governmental bodies. As companies and researchers attempt to disprove damaging claims and rally for larger farms, the benefits of solar farms are either not well known or imprecisely advertised — is solar green, clean and sustainable?
Can solar farms call themselves sustainable, or is it just another ambiguous energy classification? There is little transparency and consistency in the solar conversation. For instance, some consider the production process when classifying their eco-friendliness, and some do not.
One way to align opposing perspectives on the validity of solar farms is to create more observed tangibility about their classification, regulations, and proposed benefits.
The Way to More Solar Farms
Making the benefits of solar farms more well-known will increase the temptation to approve these projects. The benefits for constituents also need to be more publicized and cohesive.
Solar farms benefit not just homeowners but landlords and governments as well. Regulating bodies must provide solutions for each of the following considerations for more widespread acceptance.
Clarify Sustainability of Solar Farm Production
Humans cannot deplete solar power. It is evident that solar is a renewable resource, but there are still resources used to create panels and farms in the first place. Publicizing the manufacturing process, making it greener if necessary, and dispelling myths surrounding the farms must be accessible and consistent.
For instance, many want to know if solar farms produce harmful electromagnetic radiation — studies show the proximity of these farms combined with the intensity shows no adverse effect on humans.
Publicizing Income Opportunities
Landlords, farmers, homeowners, and anyone else could stand to make money from backing solar farms. With a pandemic-recovering economy, struggling industries are trying to make ends meet.
Solar farms provide passive income for landowners to recover while helping the planet. The income opportunities could increase the more people demonstrate interest — this also means jobs open for people to remotely operate the farms.
The Effects on International Trade
The UK would no longer rely on countries like Russia to provide fossil fuels. Green think tanks say it could cut gas imports to the UK by 80% a year, and this would be reflected considerably in homeowners’ electric bills. Solar farms could assist the nation in becoming more energy independent.
Animals and the Habitats Can Flourish
The natural habitat changes because panels are on the land, however, solar grazing is available for animals. This still nourishes animals needing to graze and bees looking to pollinate. Flowers and grass can still grow, allowing animals to wander farms uninterrupted and safely. Solar farms are malleable. If there are unfavorable side effects, they are easily decommissioned and relocated.
A Demand for Solar Farms in the UK
Despite contention, the need for solar farms across the UK — and the world — rises as eyes on climate change become more attentive. More solar farms could power thousands of homes, drastically slicing energy bills. Solar farms create more confident nations as budgets open up, reliance on fossil fuels diminishes and constituents lead happier lives.
By Jane Marsh: www.environment.co