Solar energy

DEFINITION: 

See also: Renewable energy

Power generated by using the energy of the sun’s rays through photovoltaics (PVs). Solar panels provide a renewable energy source and do not emit greenhouse gases.

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Bywaters has reduced its carbon emissions by around 45% and saved more than 640 tonnes of CO2 since February 2016

In practice: London's largest solar retrofit project

Waste management firm Bywaters has dramatically reduced its energy usage and achieved near self-sufficiency following the delivery of a 1MW solar retrofit project at its plant in East London.

Home Depot has a target in place to source 135MW of renewable energy by 2020

Home Depot to fit retail stores with solar panels and Tesla Powerpacks

The world's largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot, has signed an agreement with GE and Tesla to create "mini solar farms" at 50 stores in the US.

Around 80,000 solar panels installed at the Moray site

Scotland's largest solar farm given go-ahead

Planning permission has been granted for what will be Scotland's largest solar farm, a 20MW project in the north-east of the country.

The new solar PV system consists of 2,902 individual panels, each of which measures 1.6 m², which will supply 39% of the daytime electricity used in the mall areas of the centre

'The jewel in the crown': Landsec drives towards science-based target with Britain's biggest shopping centre solar installation

The UK's largest commercial property developer has today (11 August) flicked the switch on a giant rooftop solar system at a shopping centre in Leeds, kicking off a 12-month investment programme in onsite sustainability across its estate.

Smurfit Kappa's €134m (£120m) investment in new technologies at its Nettingsdorf Paper Mill will significantly reduce emissions while increasing production output

In practice: Smurfit Kappa's £120m onsite sustainability drive

With one eye on a key carbon reduction goal for 2020, paper-based packaging company Smurfit Kappa recently undertook a multi-million-euro investment into new boiler and steam turbine systems at one of its major manufacturing facilities in Austria which will significantly reduce emissions.

British Land’s energy efficiency programme has already delivered £13m of gross savings for its occupiers

British Land completes major retail rooftop solar project

Top property development firm British Land has completed the installation of one of the UK's largest retail rooftop solar projects, which will deliver 22% of the site's annual electricity demand during the summer months.

Bond financing will be launched on the company’s new crowdfunding platform Mongoose Crowd, which has already raised more than £1m for green energy projects in the UK since June

Mongoose Energy secures UK's biggest community energy deal

Mongoose Energy has finalised a deal to finance the UK's biggest community energy project, a 'solar plus battery' farm in Warwickshire.

(L to R) Octopus Energy founder Greg Jackson, Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger and Chief Executive Officer Ivan Gazidis

Arsenal's Emirates Stadium inks deal to source 100% renewable energy

Arsenal Football Club's 60,000-seater stadium in North London has become the first Premier League stadium to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewables, after the club extended its supplier deal with Octopus Energy.

The news is a timely boost for the solar industry, with project deployment at a seven-year low

Solar energy storage systems secure reduced VAT rate

Householders installing a storage system to integrate with a newly-purchased solar photovoltaic systems have been greeted with a reduced VAT of 5%, after the Solar Trade Association (STA) provided evidence to the HMRC.

Onsite generation can help businesses save money on energy bills and even generate income by selling surplus energy back into the grid

edie publishes free business guide to onsite energy generation

Organisations and professionals with an interest in producing and consuming energy at a particular location away from the grid now have access to a free, comprehensive 'edie explains' guide which answers all of the key questions surrounding onsite generation.

edie explains: Onsite generation

This edie explains business guide, produced in association with E.ON, provides an in- depth summary of onsite generation, which allows businesses to make and use their own energy at a particular location, rather than buying that energy through the grid.

A more sustainable energy system is being driven by the rapidly improving economics of renewable power, supported by cost-effective energy storage and the emergence of electric vehicles

Energy industry must embrace '3D transition' to sustainable future, say former Big Six bosses

Britain's 'Bix Six' utility companies must rapidly adapt and find a new role in an energy system which is undergoing the "3D transition" of decarbonisation, digitisation and decentralisation, a new report by industry experts has concluded.

The new home battery packs are priced from £3,000, with costs rising to £6,925 when combined with Ikea solar panels

Ikea offers home energy storage systems alongside solar panels

Ikea has partnered with renewable energy firm Solarcentury to launch a new domestic battery storage solution that could help to double the amount of solar energy used by UK households and reduce electricity bills by 70%.

Members of the European Investment Bank visit Welsh Water's Five Fords treatment site in Wrexham

Welsh Water secures £250m renewables loan and DONG Energy deal

The sixth largest regulated water and sewage company in England and Wales has secured a £250m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance on-site renewable generation projects, alongside a clean energy purchasing agreement with providers DONG Energy.

250 kWp ground mount PV system designed and installed by HBS New Energies at the Coal Authority’s Deerplay Mine Water Treatment Scheme, Lancashire

UK Coal Authority turns to solar to offset water treatment costs

A regulatory body of the UK coal industry has named the latest contractor for a four-year renewable energy framework to offset the costs of its 75 mine water treatment sites.

The announcement marks a significant step in Aldi’s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2020

Aldi to install 96,000 solar panels across UK stores this year

German discount supermarket chain Aldi has today (5 July) announced it will install 96,000 solar panels across more than 50 UK stores by the end of 2017.

The microgrid provides WEB Aruba with real-time optimisation capabilities to forecast and cater for growing electricity demands on the island

Caribbean island turns to microgrids in quest to become fossil-fuel free

The island of Aruba is a step closer to becoming fossil-fuel free, after a new deal was signed to integrate an advanced microgrid into the operations of the island's main utilities provider to balance growing demand for electricity with increased renewable energy generation.

New consumer products like Tesla’s grid-connected home battery, along with small-scale solar, are becoming more popular, and are tipped to revolutionise the way power is stored

Storage 'not fundamentally needed' for future power grid, scientists say

The emergence of household batteries, along with small-scale solar photovoltaic and plug-in electric cars, is tipped to transform electricity storage, according to a new state-of-the-art report by European science academies. But experts claim storage is not actually fundamentally needed.

BNEF found that solar will account for 48% of the world’s installed capacity and 34% of electricity generation by 2040

'Unstoppable' renewables to reach new heights as costs tumble, report finds

Renewable energy sources will account for around three quarters of the expected $10trn global investment into power generating technologies between now and 2040, a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has claimed.

Wind energy output peaked at 9.5GW on Wednesday 7 June

Windy weather brings new renewable energy record

Windy weather brought with it a new renewable record on Wednesday lunchtime as output from wind, solar, biomass and hydro peaked at 19.3GW - more than half of all demand.

2016 is the first year that the new solar capacity added to the energy mix has been greater than any other electricity-producing technology

'Spectacular' drop in renewable energy costs leads to record global boost

Renewable energy capacity around the world was boosted by a record amount in 2016 and delivered at a markedly lower cost, according to new global data - although the total financial investment in renewables actually fell.

Telefonica already sources 44% of its electricity from renewables, having doubled the percentage over the last 12 months

Telefonica joins RE100 to accelerate clean energy commitment

Multinational broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica has signalled its commitment to decarbonising its operations, by joining the RE100 initiative to accelerate its plan to source 100% renewable energy.

Gorillaz are kicking off the E.ON partnership today (26 May) with the release of a new film for the track ‘We Got the Power’

Gorillaz dare to record new tracks in solar-powered studio

Virtual band Gorillaz will record new songs generated by renewable energy after teaming up with E.ON to establish a solar-powered music studio.

The company is also trialling onsite solar panels at its Chapelfield shopping estate

Shopping centre owners launch innovation lab after closing in on CSR targets

Shopping centre owner intu has launched a new Green Lab to identify new solutions to reduce environmental impacts, as outlined in a sustainability report that announced the firm had reached a zero-waste-to-landfill milestone.

The solar farm  will save 3,800 tonnes of CO2 emissions at the CCEP factory in Wakefield - equal to taking more than 1,700 cars off the road

Coca-Cola bottler sourcing 100% renewable electricity

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has launched a new solar farm in Yorkshire to coincide with news that the firm is now sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy.

Power Forward: How the largest US companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change

The largest US companies are increasing their clean energy and energy efficiency efforts while improving their bottom lines.

Join thousands of energy, sustainability, CSR and resource efficiency professionals at the UK's destination event for sustainable business

One month until edie Live 2017 - get your ticket now

With just one month to go until doors open for edie Live 2017 we take a look at why it is the destination event for sustainability and energy managers.

The thinktank insists that low-cost batteries, including those in EVs, mean many individual households and commercial buildings could operate off grid for months at a time by 2025

Green Alliance: UK energy system unprepared for EV and solar growth

The UK could suffer from an overloaded grid at peak times unless rapid action is taken to design a smarter power system, a new report from thinktank Green Alliance has found.

The industry body has set out a series of policy recommendations for ensuring emissions targets for the early 2030s are met

Energy UK joins calls to back 'pot one' technologies

Energy UK has called on ministers to support established renewable technologies, like onshore wind and solar, in order to provide a better deal for customers.

A Demand-Turn Up (DTU) is one of the tools and
services the National Grid is seeking to use to balance the system during the summer

National Grid encourages large businesses to boost power demand this summer

Energy-intensive businesses are being urged to voluntarily shift their energy usage in exchange for a payment in the coming months, as the National Grid anticipates a summer of low peak demands on the system.

Reading-based Anesco recently received recognition in the annual Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table for its fast-growing sales

Largest UK energy storage portfolio to come online in 2018

The largest portfolio of energy storage in the UK is set to be up and running by the end of next year, as renewable energy provider Anesco has announced proposals to bring 185MW of energy onto the grid.

Crookedstone is the largest solar energy connection to an airport in the UK and Ireland

Belfast International Airport solar farm savings soar above £100,000

Belfast International Airport has revealed it has achieved more than £100,000 in savings from a £5m off-site solar farm launched ten months ago.

Renewables have replaced 100m tonnes of oil equivalent electricity generation this decade, but will only need to replace 20m tonnes in the 10 years ahead, according to SolarPower Europe’s analysis

Renewables cut Europe's carbon emissions by 10% in 2015, says EEA

A surge in the use of wind and solar energy helped Europe to cut its fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by about 10% in 2015, an authoritative new report has found.

edie has analysed this latest batch of data to bring you 10 statistics that you probably didn’t know about global renewable energy capacity

The renewables revolution rolls on: 2016 in charts

New figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have revealed that 2016 was the strongest year yet for renewable energy. Here, edie digs deep into the data to bring you 10 key statistics that chart a record-breaking year for the world's clean energy transformation.

Make sure you have your free pass to access content across all four dedicated content theatres, our one-to-one advice clinics, energy and water marketplace and more than 100 technology and service providers all helping you do business better

edie Live exhibitor focus: Flexitricity

Ahead of edie Live at the NEC on 23-24 May, we get up close and personal with some of our exhibitors to find out what visitors can expect to see from them at the show, what's new and how they can help in the drive towards sustainability targets.

Tesla has provided hundreds of Powerpacks to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, while Apple has encouraged a supplier to invest in a floating solar project

Tesla and Apple facilitate innovative solar projects

Apple and Tesla, two companies in the vanguard of the renewables revolution, have unveiled their links to new solar projects aimed at bringing clean energy that maximises land use in areas of Japan and the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

UK leads Europe for solar growth despite a drop in installations after government cut subsidies

Solar power growth leaps by 50% worldwide thanks to US and China

The amount of solar power added worldwide soared by some 50% last year because of a sun rush in the US and China, new figures show.

The end of 2016 saw Amazon exceed an incremental goal of sourcing 40% of its demand from renewable energy, and a new 50% target has been set for the end of 2017

Amazon expands renewables ambition with new solar rooftop pledge

Online retailer Amazon Web Services has pledged to deploy large-scale solar systems across 50 fulfillment and sortation centres globally by 2020, with deployments this year set to generate 41MW of renewable energy for the company.

Land Securities has installed the first hydrogen fuel cell at the BREEAM rated Walkie-Talkie skyscraper (left) in London, which also has roof-mounted solar panels

Land Securities is world's first property firm to have science-based targets approved

The UK's largest listed commercial real estate company has today (2 March) announced the approval of its science-based target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.

The project will assess the financial case for installing batteries at solar parks and the various ways this can be managed

Innovative battery system links solar park to the grid

A pioneering £1m battery storage system in Somerset will transfer power to the local electricity network after linking directly to a nearby 1.5MW solar park.

Solar costs have fallen by more than 80% in less than decade

Renewables reaching cost-parity with fossil fuels, research finds

Low-carbon technologies are now reaching cost-parity with fossil fuels, according to a new report which states that solar cell technology is likely to have a "major impact" in the near future.

Despite Europe’s installed wind power capacity now standing at 153.7GW, it is still a relatively small fraction of the region’s 918.8GW of total power capacity

Almost 90% of new power in Europe from renewable sources in 2016

Renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe's electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent's rapid shift away from fossil fuels.

The study predicts solar PV will become “materially cheaper than alternative power options globally” between 2030 and 2040

Low-carbon boom to stall fossil fuel demand by 2020, say researchers

The demand for coal and oil will peak in 2020 as low-carbon technology prices continue to tumble, a new report which examines the energy sector has claimed.

Ben Ainslie's Land Rover BAR team have set an ambitious  goal to be the most sustainable sports team

Solar power to put wind in sails of Ben Ainslie Racing

UK-based renewable energy investment firm Low Carbon has today (1 February) unveiled a new project which will help reduce the carbon footprint of the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team.

Bywaters expects the installation on the roof of its Bow facility to deliver a positive return on investment within six years

London's largest solar retrofit project delivers big carbon savings

A waste management firm has saved 361 tonnes of CO2 in nine months following the delivery of a 1000KW solar retrofit project at its plant in East London.

Fuel-cell vehicles can run up to five times longer than the all-EV counterparts, but the technlogy has struggled to leave an impression among consumers due to cost factors

Fuel for thought: Will 2017 be the year of the zero-emission fuel-cell vehicle?

Low-carbon energy and sustainable transport are becoming evermore intertwined as new green technologies emerge and become more affordable to the masses. But as the sectors move ahead with innovative battery and electrification plans, they could be missing out on a growing fuel cell market, writes Matt Mace.

One year on from COP21, host nation France is keen to lead the climate movement and has introduced measures to ensure that it leaves a lasting green legacy

From green bonds to solar roads: France's low-carbon revolution is taking shape

History was made in France a little over a year ago when national delegates from across the world agreed on a landmark climate deal. With the Paris Agreement now ratified, the host nation is introducing a plethora of fresh green legislation aimed at transforming the way it interacts with the environment.

The battery project will provide evidence on whether solar panels can supplement evening energy use and whether the technology can effectively reduce energy bills

London councils commence innovative solar battery project and LED retrofit

Councils across London are kick-starting the capital's 'smart city' transformation, with a new LED retrofit backed by the Green Investment Bank (GIB) and an innovative solar battery project set to commence.

The thinktank’s analysis found that high carbon infrastructure, which it defines as fossil fuel power stations, airports and road building, was faring little better

Renewables investment in UK will fall 95% over next three years - study

Investment in windfarms will fall off a "cliff edge" over the next three years and put the UK's greenhouse gas reduction targets at risk, according to a new analysis.

edie explains: Water retail competition

This edie explains: Water retail competition guide provides an in-depth summary of the government-led strategy which will allow all non- domestic water users to switch suppliers of water retail services.

New Years Eve fireworks fill the Edinburgh skyline as part of the city's Hogmanay festival

Can Scotland continue its climate lead in 2017?

New figures show that Scotland is leading the UK in reducing the climate impact of electricity generation, but green groups are calling for the country to go further and "blaze the trail" for global pollution-free power by instilling a national 50% renewable energy target.

The RHI consultation had attracted criticism for proposing to slash tariffs for biomass heat by 45%, which was projected by the Government to lead to a 98% drop in installations

Solar thermal remains part of renewable heat reforms

The Government has today (14 December) set out new proposals for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). All four currently-supported technologies will remain part of the scheme.

Oman said it had taken Google five years to reach the 100% target, set in 2012, because of the complexity involved with negotiating power purchase agreements

Google to be powered 100% by renewable energy from 2017

Google's data centres and the offices for its 60,000 staff will be powered entirely by renewable energy from next year, in what the company has called a "landmark moment".

It is feared that an increase in business rates could restrict future investment in commercial rooftop solar systems

Big brands call on UK Government to 'stop the solar tax hike'

More than 160 leading green businesses including Sainsbury's, Ikea and Kingfisher have today (5 December) called upon Chancellor Philip Hammond to scrap scheduled tax increases on solar PV.

The panels will be developed and by affiliate company SunPower – described by Total as a

Total to roll out solar arrays across 5,000 services stations

Multinational oil and gas company Total is launching a program to fit 5,000 of its service stations across the globe with solar PV panels within the next five years.

The farm will take Swindon Council to 80% of its target to install 200MW of renewable capacity by 2020, the equivalent of meeting the electricity requirements of every home in borough

UK's first green energy ISA attracts £1m funding pool

The UK's first green energy Individual Savings Account (ISA) has already received £1m of investment since its launch last week, with the expenditure set to fund a new community solar farm in Swindon.

A detailed new analysis from the STA argues that since most support for large-scale solar has been removed in the last year

STA calls for 'modest government intervention' for solar

New research has shown that the current financing for large scale solar PV schemes in the UK is no longer economically viable.

Musk claimed that the technology would be “strongly net positive”

Tesla's Model 3 to utilise solar roof technology

Tesla's recent foray into the solar market looks set to pay dividends for its highly anticipated Model 3, after the company's chief executive Elon Musk revealed that the recently launched solar roof panels would feature in some form on the new vehicle.

M&S launched M&S Energy in 2008 in collaboration with energy company SSE

M&S Energy funds 26 community energy projects

The energy arm of British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has today (31 October) announced the winners of a £350,000 Community Energy Fund which supports a range of projects looking to install on-site clean technology systems.

The rollout of the product is expected to commence next summer

Tesla unveils stunning solar roof tiles

Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk unveiled the company's much anticipated solar roof tiles earlier today (29 October), claiming that the success of the product and the new integrated Powerall would hinge on a mooted merger with SolarCity.

The letter warns that the Government would “struggle” to alleviate fuel poverty and reach a 12% renewable heat target for 2020 without the aid of solar thermal installations

Solar industry 'left in limbo' over delays to RHI decision

The Solar Trade Association (STA) and the Energy Saving Trust are among a group of 21 organisations that have penned a letter to the minister of state for energy and intellectual property Baroness Neville-Rolfe, calling on her to retain solar thermal within the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Alongside strong political support in some of the world’s largest economies, the uptake in renewables looks set to be boosted by tumbling installation costs

IEA significantly increases renewables forecast

Having previously been accused of "holding back the global energy transition" through "misleading" outlooks for the growth of clean energy, the International Energy Association (IEA) has today (25 October) increased its five-year growth forecast for renewables.

The partnership will run through to March 2017, at which point the $1,000 promotion on behalf of SolarCity will drop to $750

SolarCity and Airbnb offer cash incentives on solar installations

As Tesla begins to make waves in the autonomous driving sphere, its sister company SolarCity has also branched-out into a new domain - partnering with hospitality company Airbnb to offer cash rebates on solar array installations.

The letter suggests that the removal of current trade measures would “stimulate growth” in European manufacturing sectors

European businesses call for EU to cut 'ruinous' tariffs on chinese solar

Businesses across Europe, including more than 60 based in the UK, are calling on the European Union (EU) to remove trade measures on Chinese solar modules and cells that have had "unforeseen consequences" on the European solar value chain.

The company claims that the technology can boost cell output by around 30%, and hopes to use the latest investment to bring it one step closer to commercialisation

Oxford firm receives £8.7m investment on technology to improve solar efficiency

A company founded as a "spin-out" from the University of Oxford has received a new equity investment of £8.7m, as it aims to accelerate the commercialisation of a solar cell that could boost the performance of photovoltaics by 30%.

Octopus Energy will receive branding rights for all domestic fixtures played at the Emirates in an attempt to broaden the company’s reach

Arsenal signs up renewable experts as official energy partner

Arsenal Football Club has unveiled a new marque signing, as the UK's largest solar energy investor becomes the club's official UK energy partner in a move that will see the Emirates Stadium powered by renewable energy.

Panasonic is working with Schneider to develop a new energy management system for commercial buildings, and with Tesla to manufacture and produce solar PV cells in the US

Panasonic embraces the power of partnerships to drive green innovation

Japanese electronics firm Panasonic has ramped up its involvement in the low-carbon agenda, forming two new collaborative partnerships with automaker Tesla and energy management solutions provider Schneider electric to develop new solar PV cells and smart building technology.

The WWF has also called on politicians to continue to develop the county's

September an 'astonishing' month for Scottish renewable energy

Scotland has had an "astonishing" month for wind energy, managing to generate 100% of its energy needs through wind turbines alone for two full days.

The trend will not continue into winter because of solar’s seasonal nature, but the symbolic records reveal the dramatic impacts solar subsidies and penalties for coal have wrought

Solar outstrips coal in past six months of UK electricity generation

Electricity generated by solar panels on fields and homes outstripped Britain's ageing coal power stations over the past six months in a historic first.

GM's 2.2MW solar array at its Lordstown complex will soon be accompanied by a host of array-fitted facilities

General Motors joins RE100 pledge to source 100% renewables

Automotive giant General Motors (GM) has established new sustainability commitments to source all electricity across its global operations from 100% renewable sources by 2050, and will join the RE100 to mobilise the transition.

A Resourceful Future – Expanding the UK Economy

This report by SUEZ reveals that more than £9bn could be added to the UK economy by integrating circular economy principles into the country’s emerging industrial strategy.

Tesla Motors has unveiled a new battery pack for the performance versions of its Model S and X cars that extends the range ramps up acceleration speeds

Tesla wins approval to buy SolarCity, unveils high-energy model S battery

It's been a good week for Tesla chief executive Elon Musk after the electric vehicle (EV) giant's merger with SolarCity was approved and the firm unveiled a new EV battery which makes the Model one of the fastest production cars in the world.

Reports estimate that US utility-scale electrical generation from renewable sources hit an all-time high of nearly 17% of total domestic generation

UK solar deployment figures upgraded as US smashes renewables records

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has upgraded its solar deployment stats for the UK in the first half of 2016, whilst separate data for the US has revealed that renewable energy sources have set a series of domestic records for electrical generation during the same six-month period.

More than a million people are expected to visit Notting Hill Carnival over the Bank Holiday weekend. Photo: Notting Hill Carnival/Facebook

Carnival clean-up: Notting Hill waste to generate 100MWh of electricity

Westminster City Council is planning to collect all of the waste from Notting Hill Carnival and use it to generate electricity for the National Grid - all in time to have the streets clean for the Tuesday morning commute.

The first energy has been generated with a Contracts for Difference (CfD) subsidy at the Charity Farm solar project in Shropshire

Renewable energy developers pass Contracts for Difference subsidy milestone

The Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) has confirmed that all 39 Contracts for Difference (CfD) renewable projects in the UK have past their delivery milestone requirements as part of the second round of CfD funding.