As most people are fully aware, solar farms now dominate large swathes of the South West’s countryside and now form an ever increasing share of the UK’s energy supply. Across the UK in 2014 almost 2,000 renewable energy projects with construction contracts worth £5.2 billion were awarded of which solar contributed £1.7bn, a record amount. This growth is rather starkly demonstrated by the number of schemes with a construction value in excess of £0.1 million submitted for planning. In 2010 there were only 3 solar farms submitted of this size compared with 611 in 2014 and whilst renewable energy project applications in 2014 increased by 26% on 2013, continuing the increasing year on year trend, the solar sector saw a considerably higher increase of 59%.
In contrast wind projects suffered a planning permission refusal rate of almost 45% compared with the renewable sector average of just 12% and although wind made up 44% of the value of renewable projects in 2014 this is does not give the whole story given the large size of a small number of schemes.
Are we seeing a shift from wind to solar or have these numbers likely been effected by a rush to complete solar projects before April 2015, when the government closed the RO subsidy scheme to larger ground mounted schemes?
[Figures Source: Barbour ABI]
Tom Neville BA (Hons) MRICS