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UK countryside leads in solar power

Rural areas are excelling in domestic solar power generation, with 48 out of the top 50 English parliamentary constituencies for solar capacity located in the countryside, according to new analysis

Rural communities are spearheading the solar power revolution in the UK.

That’s according to a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which suggests that 48 of the top 50 English parliamentary constituencies with the highest domestic solar generation capacity are located in rural areas.

On average, each rural constituency boasts domestic solar panels with a total generating capacity of 12.5MW, substantially higher than the 4.5MW observed in urban constituencies.

However, both rural and urban figures remain insufficient to meet the government’s net zero targets, underscoring missed opportunities to harness abundant, low carbon electricity, according to the report.

The report underscores the financial barriers hindering solar adoption, with the average domestic installation cost exceeding £6,000.

Drawing lessons from countries like Germany and Japan, which offer lucrative incentives for solar panel installation, CPRE advocates for similar initiatives in the UK to accelerate solar adoption.

Moreover, the report emphasises the untapped potential of solar energy beyond rooftops, citing France‘s legal mandate for solar panel canopies on all new car parks since 2023.

The CPRE research suggests that leveraging UK car parks and new buildings for solar panels could yield nearly 31GW of energy, surpassing current rooftop solar and solar farm capacities.

The CPRE estimates that leveraging suitable roof space and car parks nationwide could generate nearly 117GW of solar energy, exceeding the government’s solar target of 70GW by 2035.

CPRE Planning and Policy Lead Jackie Copley said: “We’re calling for a rooftop solar revolution. It’s unacceptable that developers are not required to include solar panels on all new homes. The time for change has come.

“The government must set a target for generating at least 60% of the UK’s solar energy from rooftops and make it easier and cheaper to install panels on existing homes and commercial buildings.”

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