Solar panels but not how you know them. Introducing shared solar with Ripple.

With two successful wind farm builds under our belt we are so pleased to be launching the first Ripple solar park project and there’s a lot to get excited about.

Keep reading to discover more about ground-mounted solar technology, how it differs from rooftop options, and what you could look forward to as a Ripple solar park co-operative member.

Solar parks are a valuable resource

We need more home grown green power on the grid. And large scale parks are a fantastic way to generate this power. We’re in an energy cost and security crisis. Rolling out new renewables is an essential part to addressing this. Large scale solar is one of the cheapest forms of energy generation1

Not only do solar panels generate zero carbon power, they can help address a host of other environmental issues. Solar parks are installed on land which is deemed suitable for sustainable energy generation. And though large scale, the space needed to construct a sizable and effective solar park is less than you might think, covering anything from one to 100s of acres. It can also be employed for dual use. Many locations see animals grazing underneath the panels and benefiting from their shelter2. Alongside, UK farmers are able to lease their fields, while still rearing their animals, thereby generating more income.

Solar parks also have the potential to contribute positively to the UK’s rewilding endeavours3, which aim to support vital species such as bees. Research suggests that solar parks could be used as conservation tools, if the land is allowed to take on the form of a meadow, complete with wildflowers, rather than simple turfed grass.

Currently, ground-mounted solar panels utilise just 0.1% of the land in the UK4. In order to meet its net-zero pledge, the government is predicted to increase this to 0.3%. For perspective, this is around half the land currently being used for golf courses. 

A final, potentially surprising, upside of solar parks is that they help to balance the grid, which needs to be supplied by multiple sources, from different regions. Solar parks are usually built in different locations to wind farms, meaning that they can contribute to geographical balance, while still supplying vital green energy to the grid.

How does shared solar compare to rooftop solar panels?

Comparing industrial and domestic solar energy generation is a little tricky. Yes, they’re both using the energy from the sun to reduce energy bills, but with varying results and benefits. 

A major difference is the upfront cost. Large scale solar parks consist of thousands of panels. This enables them to secure a better price. There are also big savings on installation of large scale solar compared to home solar. All in all, the upfront cost of shared solar is around 60% cheaper than the upfront cost of rooftop solar. 

The ongoing bill savings can be greater with home solar, particularly if you have a home battery and can use all the electricity your solar generates. The savings from your solar generation would then be closer to the retail price rather than wholesale price. You’d need to factor in the cost of the battery though. Lithium-ion batteries can cost anywhere from four or five thousands of pounds to well over £15,000.

Let’s also not forget that domestic solar isn’t suitable for everyone. Even if you’re keen to install panels on your roof, you may not be able to. Perhaps you’re renting, you live in a flat or it isn’t south-facing? These are just some of the factors that will make panel installation unsuitable for your property. However, owning part of a shared Ripple solar park will let you enjoy the benefits of green energy ownership, regardless of where you live.

And finally. If you already have rooftop solar, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t own part of a large-scale solar park as well. The savings will work together to lower your energy bills further, while supplying the grid with more sustainable energy.

Solar and wind: the perfect pairing

As a sustainable energy owner you don’t have to choose between either solar or wind. In fact, the two work symbiotically.

While wind farms usually generate more energy in the darker winter months, solar steps up during summer. Owning a bit of both allows you to supercharge your year-round savings and maintain access to green energy, whatever the weather.

How could I combine solar and wind in my Ripple portfolio?

As a Ripple co-operative member you are able to buy shares in our sustainable projects to cover up to 120% of your annual electricity consumption. This total can be met through ownerships across multiple projects. Find out why we have a 120% cap.

For example: if you already co-own one of our wind farms but are not generating enough electricity to cover 120% or your electricity, you could choose to join our third project. This is going to be a solar park in England and would be a natural complement to your existing wind-dominated portfolio. 

If you are not an existing Ripple member, you could start your journey today by reserving your spot in our solar park offering. You don’t have to max-out your generation cap this time around and can participate in future projects if you want to see bigger bill savings.

Want to harness the power of the sun for lower bills and a greener future? Reserve your place here.

  1. https://www.carbonbrief.org/solar-is-now-cheapest-electricity-in-history-confirms-iea/ 
  2. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2357545-putting-solar-panels-in-grazing-fields-is-good-for-sheep/#:~:text=They%20found%20that%20the%20sheep,on%20land%20without%20solar%20panels.
  3. https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/12/14/planting-wildflowers-around-solar-panels-could-make-them-a-home-for-bees 
  4. https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-is-solar-power-a-threat-to-uk-farmland/#:~:text=Even%20government%20plans%20to%20significantly,taken%20up%20by%20golf%20course
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