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Startling New Report on England's Clean Energy

England could produce 13 times more renewable energy than it does now, while using less than 3 percent of its land, analysis has found.

Leeds Castle, England
Leeds Castle lit up with the Union Jack.

This is important as some commentators are claiming that solar farms will reduce the UK’s ability to grow its own food, but the new analysis - commissioned by Friends of the Earth - suggests there is plenty of land that can be used without impairing agricultural production.

Onshore wind and solar projects could provide enough electricity to power all the households in England two and a half times over, say the researchers. Furthermore, the numbers are reached by only taking into account the most suitable sites, excluding national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, higher grade agricultural land and heritage sites.

The report notes that wind and solar farms are by far the cheapest forms of electricity production. For example, electricity from gas-fired power stations is almost 3 times more expensive to produce.  More renewable electricity production can therefore help lower energy bills. It will also reduce carbon emissions as it displaces gas-fired electricity and as transport and heating are electrified.

The calculations used by the researchers of the land needed to power England with renewable energy exclude the massive potential of rooftop solar panels. Thus far, the British government has resisted calls for solar panels to be made mandatory on new-build housing. Could this be because housing developers are among the largest donors to the Conservative party? If it was mandatory for new homes to be built with renewables, high-grade insulation and other low-carbon features, it would cost less than £5,000 ($6,300) for a housing developer. A tiny percentage of the sale value of the property. But, says The Guardian, retrofitting the home to the same standard costs about four times as much, with the expense having to be borne by the home owner.

Tony Bosworth, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Unleashing the UK’s immense potential to generate cheap, clean homegrown renewables is essential to bring down our energy bills for good and meeting the UK’s vital international target to reduce carbon emissions by two-thirds by 2030."

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