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Solar PV and Energy Storage: Key Aspects of the Net Zero Economy

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In this guest piece, Deborah Walker, Development Project Manager for ABO Wind considers the continued development of solar PV and energy storage projects in the UK, their role in a net zero economy and the challenges faced in reaching this goal.

With a new report commissioned by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit showing the UK’s net zero economy grew 9% in 2023, it is clear the sector is delivering both in terms of economic growth and reduced carbon emissions.

This impressive growth is put in context when the report points out that during the same period the wider economy saw stagnation, with GDP growth at just 0.1%. It also means that the gross value added by businesses in the sector now stands at £74 billion, or almost 4% of the entire UK economy.

However, it is fair to say this hasn’t happened overnight, especially when we look more closely at specific aspects of the net zero economy, like the delivery of renewable energy generation.

The potential policy uncertainty regarding solar PV development has been damaging. It has impacted investors’ confidence and means the delivery of vitally important green energy projects has been stifled when it should have been accelerated.

Although there has been a good level of deployment considering the circumstances, the designation of the energy National Policy Statements means we now have robust and supportive policy for solar developments of all scales. It has been a long wait and more needs to be done at policy-level, including to address continuing policy challenges regarding onshore wind. But we are now working in a context that should help the delivery of more solar to help achieve the government’s 70GW by 2035 target, and the further growth of the net zero economy.

This is good news for everyone, as the Energy & Climate Change Unit’s report also found that net zero jobs are significantly better paid, with the average net zero salary being £44,600 compared to the £35,400 UK average – a difference of almost £10,000. These are sustainable green jobs where people can gain fulfilment from the important work they are doing, whilst being well rewarded. Ultimately the money earned by professionals across the industry goes to local shops, hospitality providers, tourist businesses, charities, sports clubs, and others as we all live our everyday lives.

At ABO Wind, we have ambitions to help power the growth of the net zero economy even further. From our offices in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland our specialist teams are working towards our goal of delivering 3GW of renewable generation and energy storage facilities throughout the UK between now and 2030.

Whilst we are excited about what we can achieve, we are mindful of the need for clean energy infrastructure like solar PV and energy storage to compliment and facilitate other strategic priorities.

More renewable generation means cheaper electricity and greater energy security. Our projects provide additional income streams for farmers and help to address threats to food security. With more solar farms now becoming operational in the UK, we are getting a clearer picture of the positive relationships these projects have with ecology, too.

The positive sentiment towards solar developments – well over two thirds of people recently asked said they strongly support/support the development of solar energy in their area – shows that the public does recognise the important role that renewables are playing and the benefits they create.

This, alongside a more supportive policy environment coupled with a highly skilled and ambitious renewable energy workforce means critical infrastructure like solar PV and battery energy storage will continue to play a key role in the growth of the net zero economy – even more so than before.


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