A ranking of the solar energy capacity of councils in England, Wales and Scotland puts Reading borough in the top 20% of council areas. The analysis, which uses government data published this autumn by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, puts our solar energy capacity in 70th place out of 363 councils, with an installed capacity of 1.84 kilowatts/hectare.
To take the top spot, Reading would have to increase capacity more than four fold to beat the current leader, Swindon, which has an installed capacity of 8.32 kilowatts/hectare.
Despite Reading’s high ranking, the dataset shows that solar energy capacity increased only modestly in Reading Borough between 2020 and 2021. In 2020 Reading had a solar energy capacity of 7.2 megawatts (MW), climbing just 3% to 7.4 megawatts in the following year.
The full dataset spans the last 8 years and shows that the largest increase in solar capacity and generation in the borough was between 2014 and 2015, with more modest gains thereafter.
To mitigate the effects of climate change and keep within a safe global average temperature rise, renewable energy projects need to be scaled up phenomenally. A flagship report by the International Energy Association looking at pathways to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 says that for solar power the global deployment needed “is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day”.