Howard Johns on the solar revolution and de-centralised clean energy
As the Managing Director of Southern Solar and former chairman of the Solar Trade Association, Howard Johns has a very clear vision of the UK solar market and is actively involved in pushing for changes in policy at Government levels to bring renewable energy in line with fossil fuels.
Howard has been speaking out recently about the shift we can see happening from central polluting fossil fuel energy production to decentralized energy and its viability in the UK. He points to Germany’s solar revolution as a perfect example. Currently Germany gets 20% of its energy from renewable energy sources and the Government is predicting that this will climb to 50% from solar panels alone by 2020.
“Some days 50% of the energy produced and used in the German National Grid comes from Solar, it has now come to a point where the cost of producing electricity during the day is dropping and prices are dropping, the large central fossil fuel energy producers are finding it increasingly difficult to make money during the day in Germany,” says Howard. “The German Government predicts that by 2020 50% of the day electricity will come from solar alone every day, but it may well be more than this.”
What’s most notable about renewable energy generation in Germany is that just 15% of these renewable production facilities are owned by utility companies. The rest are owned by small businesses, community groups and even individuals.
According to Howard while the mainstream press might have us believe that there is no revolution in renewables the reality is in fact rather different.
Take solar photovoltaic panels for instance, the simplest and most popular of all renewable energy technologies to install. Thanks to escalating energy prices more and more energy conscious households in the UK are turning to solar power as the most viable way of addressing spiralling energy costs. By generating their own electricity home owners benefit by reducing their reliance on expensive fossil fuels and cutting their energy bills in the process.
Howard is encouraging community groups to join the revolution by getting people to band together to establish solar programmes. For people passionate about their community, and keen to break away from dependence on pricey fossil fuels as well as do their bit for the environment, these types of schemes are using solar to establish a community led renewable energy resolution. Indeed, community owned energy is proving to be a pretty powerful tool. Take the Leominster Community Solar Project in Herefordshire for example, where 97 people have joined forces to install their own 50kW solar PV array, which has been installed onto the roof of a local community sports hall.
As we know, most developed countries generate their electricity in large centralised facilities, whether it be fossil fuels, nuclear or even large scale solar power plants. But generating electricity from many small energy sources can improve security of supply, which is why de-centralised clean energy has to be the way forward.
For more than 10 years Sussex-based Southern Solar has been at the forefront of the UK solar market, helping home owners, communities and even farmers make the transition to sustainable low carbon and renewable energy technologies.