Solar Energy is now the cheapest form of energy in history.
The International Energy Agency has now released its World Energy Outlook for 2020 onwards. It’s a highly comprehensive document that spans 464 pages, which cover a number of predictions and observations about the global energy sector’s current trajectory and its likely future. Notably, the IEA officially states solar to be the cheapest electricity in history, has become cheaper than coal and gas in most major countries.
It goes some way to reinforcing why commercial solar has become so popular for businesses right here in the UK and Northern Ireland. Not only does it provide significant lifetime cost savings for businesses, but also helps them reach their target of achieving Net Zero, helping them fulfil their environmental responsibilities while maintaining their appeal to an ever more climate-conscious public. The IEA’s full World Energy Outlook is available to buy on its website should you choose to, but we’ll save you a bit of time by recapping its key points about solar energy below.
Cost of Solar is dropping by as much as 20% to 50%
This year’s World Energy Outlook has been influenced by some quite dramatic recent developments on the global stage, not least of which is the ‘extraordinarily turbulent’ impact of Covid-19, and the uncertain future of global energy use over the next 20 years. Renewables continue to see sustained growth within the world’s energy markets, as the global reliance of fossil fuels continues to decline.
The IEA posits that there are four possible ‘pathways’ to 2040, all of which maintain this steady growth of renewables. Solar energy, in particular, has demonstrated exceptional growth in the past few years, and the IEA’s ‘main’ scenario involves 43% more solar output by 2040 than it first expected in 2018. It’s a significant jump, and it’s partially to do with the fact that solar is now some 20% to 50% cheaper than the IEA initially estimated.
What’s more, it now predicts that these steadily dropping costs and exponential growth of solar means that there will be record-breaking additions of new solar capacity every year from 2020 onwards.
One of the key takeaways from the report is that as individuals, businesses and nations, we should all be aiming to reach Net-Zero. It might not always be an easy target, but it’s perfectly achievable, and only if we keep up the pressure. The IEA is quick to point out that it will require what it called “unprecedented” efforts from all sectors, not just the energy industry.
An example of commercial Solar Panels installed by our experts at Solar Power NI. Location: Salthouse
What is Net Zero?
Net Zero essentially refers to striking a balance between the emissions a given entity produces, and the emissions that it removes from the atmosphere. If the emissions produced is equal to the emissions removed, then that entity can be truthfully said to have achieved Net Zero, or gone ‘carbon neutral’ – these two terms mean the same thing.
If you want your business to achieve Net Zero, you have to be investing in techniques and technologies to remove as many greenhouse emissions from the atmosphere as you put into it. In practical terms, this essentially involves cutting greenhouse emissions (particularly carbon dioxide) to as close to zero as possible.
This can be accomplished by switching to renewable energy like solar power.
How can Solar power reduce CO2 emissions?
Solar power can help reduce CO2 emissions mainly by being a clean and renewable source of energy. Solar power is not dependent on burning fossil fuels or other products; instead, it uses electrons from captured from the sun’s energy for energy creation. Therefore, solar energy does not create greenhouse gases for energy production at your house. It’s been shown that of energy production methods including coal, gas, oil that renewable energy such as PV (photovoltaic) solar and wind energy have a far lesser carbon footprint. The reason renewable sources have a footprint at all is due to the emissions created during the production of the equipment during manufacturing. The number is extremely low considering that the emissions from the one-time production of the equipment are spread out over an estimated 30 to even 40-year life of the panels (for PV solar).
Commercial Solar Panel Grants & Funding
COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Capital Grant – The Minister for the Economy has launched a new £500,000 COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Capital Grant (EECG) from Invest Northern Ireland.
The applications are currently open until 5 pm Thursday 7 January 2021.
What is available?
Businesses and organisations can access up to a maximum grant of £80,000 to support 20% of eligible costs to purchase new energy efficiency equipment.
Eligible projects can use EECG to contribute toward the costs of energy-efficient technologies such as:
- LED lighting system including LED luminaires, and lighting controls such as occupancy and daylight sensors.
- Heating and cooling equipment including high-efficiency boilers, intelligent heating controls, heat recovery projects, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and refrigeration equipment.
- Replacement drives or motors including variable speed drives (VSD) and high-efficiency motors.
- Process insulation including extruder insulation and pipework insulation.
- Renewable energy generation such as solar PV.
- Other technologies such as high-efficiency compressors, energy storage, combined heat and power (CHP), building energy management systems (BEMS) and voltage optimisation.
EECG is open to existing Invest NI customers and businesses that can become an Invest NI customer.
You are eligible if:
- Your business operation is based in Northern Ireland.
- You are an Invest NI customer or can demonstrate you can meet the qualifying criteria of:
- reaching a turnover of £250,000 per annum within 5 years;
- achieving at least 25% of those sales outside of Northern Ireland.
- Your project:
- Demonstrates a simple financial payback (before any grant is applied) between one and six years through energy cost savings achieved on-site.
- Has an eligible project spend of £4,000 and £400,000.
- Demonstrates at least 10% of carbon emissions savings.
- You can fully implement your project, including the full installation of equipment, payment of costs in full and submission of your grant claim to Invest NI before 5 pm on 19 March 2021.
How to apply
All the information on applying for COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Capital Grant along with the eligibility check can be acquainted here.
Commercial Solar Panels Installation
Commercial solar panels are also a great way to boost your green credentials. Companies like Google, Apple, IKEA and Sainsbury’s have all invested heavily in solar, slashing their carbon emissions and achieving environmental targets.
Reminder: You have until 5 pm Thursday 7 January 2021 to submit an application for the COVID-19 Energy Efficiency Capital Grant. The online process takes approximately one hour to complete. You can save your application and return to it at any time.