19229 Orion Industry Social Assets December194

The sun is shining on the UK’s solar industry

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Solar energy has been a common sight on rooftops across the UK for many years. Despite reductions in the Feed-in Tariff in more recent times, the cost of going solar dropped by 88% between 2010 and 2021[1]. So, having moved beyond government subsidies and small scale projects, the solar industry continues to thrive, and it’s proving an attractive sector for those with the right transferable skills.

UK solar is on a growth track

According to the UK’s solar industry trade body, Solar Energy UK, in 2021 photovoltaic energy systems supplied more than 4% of the UK’s entire electricity demand[2]. In April 2022, the UK Government made clear its commitment to the acceleration of homegrown power generation to give Britain long-term energy independence, security and prosperity[3]. Included in this plan is the five-fold increase of the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity by 2035. This ambition equates to around 60,000 jobs, says Solar Energy UK.

In this time of energy price uncertainty, solar power - combined with improved energy storage - certainly seems like an attractive option. If you’re reading this and thinking that the UK isn’t sunny enough to support such rapid growth, think again: other countries on a similar latitude are significantly more dependent on solar. Like Denmark, where solar energy contributes nearly five times as much on a percentage basis to the Danish electricity mix as Scottish solar does to Scottish electricity[4].

Job roles in solar are many and varied

When it comes to solar energy generation, there are two main approaches: rooftop (both domestic and commercial/industrial) and solar parks, which comprise ground-mounted panels, sometimes connected to a storage system. For a period in May 2020, solar parks helped the UK meet more than 11% of its total electricity demand (along with other forms of solar power) and contributed to a record period of coal-free generation[5].

Because of the range of installations and the clients involved, everything from homeowners to investors and utility companies looking to diversify their portfolio, a huge range of skills are needed across the solar supply chain. A 2022 briefing by Solar Energy Scotland lists the following roles as being in demand: surveyors, construction and trades (including high and low voltage electrical engineers), operations and maintenance specialists, data analysts, solar cleaning specialists, business development staff and communications and marketing teams - plus many more[6]. Opportunities abound.

The benefit for potential employees is that jobs aren’t clustered in any single geographical area in the UK, making a job in solar more accessible than some other energy production methods. While some regions are already ahead when it comes to solar energy production - like Mid Devon, Monmouthshire and Wrexham for household generation, and the bottom half of England for solar parks[7]- the companies involved are spread across the UK.

How Orion Group’s experience can help bridge the skills gap

Anyone who knows Orion Group will know that we are still highly active in the traditional energy sector. Indeed, it’s thanks to this experience that we’ve been able to spot the transferable skills required for the transition to renewable energy jobs. We’ve cultivated strong relationships with potential candidates over several years, so we’re in a strong position to support employment in the solar industry. Our talent pool is international, mobile and full of the transferable skills that will be crucial to support the planned growth in the sector. We’ll be keeping an eye on what comes out of the UK Government’s newly formed Green Jobs Delivery Group[8] with interest.

If you would like to know more about how we can support experienced contractors and clients in the solar industry - both in the UK and worldwide - please get in touch. marketing@orioneng.com

Sources

[1]https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/cost

[2]https://solarenergyuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Briefing-Fact-Checker-1.pdf

[3]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-acceleration-of-homegrown-power-in-britains-plan-for-greater-energy-independence

[4]https://solarenergyuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Solar-Skills-Scotland-Briefing_May2022.pdf

[5]https://solarenergyuk.org/solar-energy/

[6]https://solarenergyuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Solar-Skills-Scotland-Briefing_May2022.pdf

[7]https://electricityproduction.uk/regions/ and https://images.theecoexperts.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SolarMapMedium.jpg

[8]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-jobs-delivery-steps-up-a-gear

https://electricityproduction.uk/regions/ and https://images.theecoexperts.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SolarMapMedium.jpg[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/green-jobs-delivery-steps-up-a-gear