What is holding renewable energy back?
When discussing the barriers which the renewable energy sector is currently facing, government policy often crops up as a common theme. The use of wind and solar as sources of renewable energy are brilliant, but they are not the be-all and end-all and this is something the which needs to be reflected in government policy.
For example, over the last 18 months, our wind generation has been in the region of 40% lower than expected during that period. If the UK is solely reliant on wind, then what do we do in this situation?
The same applies to solar energy. Albeit a good form of renewable energy, the sun does not shine 24 hours a day. This is why a balanced approach in government policy is required in order to meet the UK’s energy demand.
If the government incorporates all methods of renewable energy into a balanced strategy, the UK will be able to become energy independent.
What is missing from the UK’s approach to renewable energy?
A balanced approach to renewable energy is needed, as is the general public’s education.
Many challenges in the renewable energy industry are exacerbated by the lack of education and understanding of the general public. It is important that people are bought into the idea of renewable energy and the benefits it can deliver to them and their communities. This all stems from sufficiently educating the public on renewable energy.
We can make a start by ensuring that renewables form part of the school curriculum and raise awareness of the career opportunities available in renewables to the younger generation. This can be done by embedding them into the sector through opportunities and access to schemes such as the Climate Change Thought Leadership Award.
Furthermore, our reliance on fossil fuels needs to be brought to a halt. The UK’s energy strategy which was published in April 2022 still highlights the use of oil and gas and recent government changes to the policy on fracking in the UK is pushing us further away from our net zero targets. We can no longer be reliant on fossil fuels if we want to achieve our goal of net zero by 2050.
How can we drive renewable energy forward?
Investment in the renewable energy industry is crucial to its success in decarbonising our energy system. Pressure on the government to create a balanced approach towards all sources of renewable energy in its policy and funding is essential if we want to reduce our reliance on oil and gas. We need to take responsibility, both as individuals and within our communities, to drive the renewable sector forward by holding those in charge to account and educating those around us on the value of renewable energy in supporting our energy independence.