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Results from new CPRE report finds rooftops and carparks can power the country to over half its solar energy targets

Dilys Merry
By Dilys Merry
29th May 2023

An independent review commissioned by CPRE looked at the solar photovoltaic capacity of rooftops and car parks across England.

The government has set a national target of 70GW of solar energy generation by 2035.  This report assesses how this target can be met with minimum impact to the countryside.

Key findings are:

·         Installing solar panels on existing rooftops and other land such as car parks will provide at least 40-50GW in England by 2035.

·         Longer term to 2050, and with further investment, there is potential for up to 117GW of low carbon electricity to be generated from roofs and other developed spaces.


·        Ground mounted solar projects are necessary in order to transition to renewable energy in the timeframe required.  However valuable landscapes can be protected.

·        The need for additional large greenfield schemes will be gradually removed if rooftop solar is prioritised.

·        Installing solar panels on existing buildings and car parks will enjoy near universal public support.  And help minimise objections to large solar farms in the countryside.

·        Decarbonising the grid will require far less land than previously feared when utilising rooftops and areas such as carparks for solar panels.

 Roger Mortlock, chief executive of CPRE, said:

‘Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it’s time that renewables are fitted as standard on all new development. Homeowners expect it on new homes and it’s crazy to see massive new warehouses, with roofs the size of football pitches, waved through without any expectation they install rooftop solar.  The planning system is stuck in the fossil fuel age without a plan for net zero. The first step must be all new buildings and major renovations requiring solar panels as a condition of planning permission unless there are strong reasons not to.’ 

In summary:

Without a rooftop solar revolution an area of countryside larger than the size of Greater London will be required for ground-mounted schemes. CPRE’s view is that this land could be much better used for either nature recovery, public access and, or low impact food production. 

CPRE is campaigning to ensure solar is mandatory for all major refurbishments and new residential, commercial and industrial buildings.  Click HERE to view the full report.  With the right policies, rooftop solar could hand power back to the people.  A decentralised future of renewable energy cooperatives, supported by the government, is a realistic option in a net zero world.  

Herefordshire council have utilised solar panels on council buildings to help reduce their carbon emissions by 57.4% since 2008.  View their plan HERE to reduce emissions further and become carbon neutral by 2030.  To find out more about our work regarding solar panels in Herefordshire click HERE.  We are always looking for people to help in our fight to promote, enhance and protect the Herefordshire countryside.  Find out how you can help by clicking HERE.

Fitting solar panels to a roof
All suitable new buildings should have rooftop solar as standard Unsplash