This week the UK Government announced its net zero strategy, and much to the delight of solar professionals, a dedicated task force is being set up to increase the deployment of solar in the UK and to harness its full potential.
It’s especially welcome after months of uncertainty about the Government’s stance on solar. Liz Truss set herself on a collision course with industry officials after she opposed placing solar panels on farmland, and ever since its felt like an uphill battle to secure support for solar development.
Today may mark the turning of the tide, but there’s still much to be done to raise awareness of solar as a solution to the climate and energy crises we face.
The role of solar in delivering energy security
There isn’t a huge amount of mainstream media coverage around solar as a legitimate solution to the energy crisis, particularly when compared against other alternative fuel sources such as nuclear or hydrogen. It is a sustainable alternative that will drive down our carbon footprint, but it also provides homegrown energy that benefits the economy through improved energy security and job creation. There is an opportunity for solar businesses to address this in the media and position solar as a serious contender within the energy mix. Proactive communications is key to debunking some of the misconceptions around solar and driving support from government and other stakeholders.
The role different energy sources play in decentralising
Different energy sources will need to come together to address the crises we face, but we should also expose the gaps in energy deemed ‘reliable’. For example, nuclear plants will take years to reactivate and pose an array of safety concerns. As for oil and gas, world leaders only recently signed commitments to transition away from fossil fuels, only to do a 180 during the energy crisis. Energy security is the priority, that much is clear, but it doesn’t have to mean choosing unsustainable options. Businesses operating in the industry need to educate the media about the state of play and the role solar energy can offer within the current context specifically.
Counteracting misconceptions and nimbyism
Clever communication can challenge damaging assertions being made about solar and drive support for its application, particularly amongst government officials and council members. This will helps to combat nimbyism which the solar industry is increasingly coming up against. Recent articles have scrutinised the use of land for solar while we face a food production crisis. Businesses should seek to educate the media and its readers about the importance of making space for renewable generation. It is imperative that businesses position solar as an opportunity for farmers to diversify following the loss of government subsidies.
Pushing for greater Government support
It’s fantastic to see the UK Government now acknowledging the ‘huge potential’ of solar in decarbonising the power sector, but there’s always room for more support. In Jeremy Hunt’s spring statement, nuclear and carbon capture were the main focusses. The sector needs to raise visibility of solar as a viable solution through public affairs engagement integrated closely with comms. Solar provides an opportunity to generate on-shore energy that is more reliable and cost effective for British households and businesses, and quicker to get online than most other renewable sources. These are the message that need to be communicated to the media.