Demand for solar panels in the Harrogate area has almost doubled in the last year as homeowners look to reduce their energy bills while helping to tackle climate change.
Rooftop solar panels that harness the power of the sun to generate renewable energy have been around for decades but with record-high energy bills they are becoming an increasingly common sight in our towns and villages.
Before installing solar panels, a developer or homeowner must first get permission from North Yorkshire Council.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service compared the number of solar-related planning applications in the first half of 2022 with 2023, in the former Harrogate district area, and found it had jumped from 27 to 57.
Experts have put the rise in popularity for solar panels down to high energy costs brought on by the war in Ukraine that has pushed up wholesale prices.
According to the Office for National Statistics, gas and electricity prices rose by 36.2 per cent and 17.3 per cent in the year to June 2023. It said energy prices have been one of the largest contributors to high inflation since April 2022.
As well as reducing bills, solar panels are one way individual households can reduce carbon emissions.
The Committee for Climate Change says the technology will be crucial if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero target.
The UK experienced a heatwave in June which saw 9.3 per cent of the country’s energy generated by solar, but the figure is likely to be lower for July due to the largely wet and overcast conditions.
Tim Larner, vice chair policy advocacy at Zero Carbon Harrogate, told the LDRS: “Zero Carbon Harrogate is delighted to note the increase in the number of planning applications with solar panels included and we congratulate those developers who are taking a sustainable and long-term approach.
"Not only does it make financial sense to include roof-mounted solar panels in all new developments, it’s also a practical response to the climate emergency.”
It is not only homeowners who have been installing solar panels. Schools including Oatlands Junior School, Harrogate Grammar School, Coppice Valley Primary School and Rossett Acre Primary School will install hundreds on their rooftops.
There has also been small-scale solar applications from farmers, with plans approved to add solar panels on top of agricultural barns in Burnt Yates, Beckwithshaw and Felliscliffe.
Mr Larner added: “We need to be taking every opportunity to make our homes, schools, hospitals and offices more sustainable in all aspects of their construction.”