Earlier in the week, we asked the question of whether solar energy was actually good for farms. While not supporting the use of solar panels as replacing farmland, it was noted that farms have plenty of roof space that could be utilized producing solar energy, taking care of much of the farm’s electrical requirements. And, as if on cue, now we have the announcement that the farmer who hosts the Glastonbury festival is has installed the largest array of solar panels in the UK on his farm.
With over 1,100 solar panels installed on roofs at the farm, they are expected to meet 80% of the farm’s electrical demands. This will of course mean savings on electrical bills. On top of that however, there is the feed-in tariff which will also generate money. This should generate more than £60,000 every year, meaning that the initial investment will be paid back within nine years. Beyond that, the money made from the solar panels will be profits. With the feed-in tariff guaranteed for 25 years, this means profits will be close to one million pounds, assuming conditions stay the same. Clearly then, solar energy is an excellent long term investment. The only question is whether or not you can afford the initial outlay to have the solar panels installed in the first place.
For many people of course, the financial aspects of solar energy only matter in the sense of whether the logistics can be made to work. The main reason why renewable energy is so important is that more traditional forms of energy are running out, as well as the fact that they also cause pollution. Solar energy, on the other hand, will never run out. (At least, while we have a sun, and when the sun runs out then everything going off in our fridges is going to be the least of our worries.) The solar cells that have been installed on the farm are going to save potentially 100 tonnes of carbon every year. They will also be able to replace some of the diesel engines which are needed at the Glastonbury festival. However, the numbers there are not so impressive: only six out of two hundred.
If anything, this goes to show that while solar energy is an excellent source of renewable energy, it still has a way to go before it will be able to take over from more traditional energy sources. There is always more research being done into solar energy though, making it more powerful, more efficient, and all around more effective. We should remember that solar energy can be made use of on a large scale as well as a small scale, and with a new spray-on application which is in development, the uses for it are going to become practically endless. The best time to get involved with solar energy is always as soon as possible though, especially with the feed-in tariff going under review at some point in the coming years.