Achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is the target of the 194 countries that have signed the 2016 Paris Agreement to tackle the global emergency of climate change.
Around 75% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from the production and use of energy, making it the main perpetrator in causing damage to the environment. And solar energy, as an alternative to fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources, is a major player in achieving net zero.
Solar energy became affordable to the wider market around 2008 and has since become popular for both residential and commercial buyers, keen to reduce their energy consumption and their carbon footprint.
Robert Whetham Associates is a leading firm of mechanical and electrical (M&E) services consulting engineers. As problem solvers and innovators, we work across the construction industry to help architects, contractors, and business owners, design and complete projects that will contribute towards achieving net zero.
We do this by installing solar energy systems as well as air source heat pumps and energy-efficient lighting and controls, that will benefit property owners in their net zero journey.
What is net zero?
Net zero is the target for cutting greenhouse emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions reabsorbed from the atmosphere by the likes of oceans and forests.
For architects and contractors, net zero is now an integral element of building design and balancing the greenhouse gas emissions produced against the emissions removed from the atmosphere.
The carbon net zero journey
The carbon net zero journey has been affected by much debate and deliberation, not only amongst world leaders but also businesses and the general public. Despite a rollercoaster of progress and the understanding of how energy consumption impacts carbon emissions, by 2020 42% of the UK’s electricity was generated by renewable sources including solar and wind.
At the UN Climate Change Conference of 2015 (COP21) in Paris, world leaders reached a breakthrough and introduced the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The legally binding treaty came into force in November 2016 with the target of achieving a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and reaching net zero in 2050.
Advantages of solar technology
Solar technology generates renewable energy through solar PV (photovoltaic) panels that absorb energy from the sun and convert it into heat and electricity.
At Robert Whetham Associates, we work with architects, contractors and property owners to design solar panel installations on commercial and residential buildings that remove the reliance on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.
The advantages of solar technology extend beyond its environmental impact.
- Because solar technology generates renewable free energy, it significantly reduces overall energy costs. This makes build projects with solar technology attractive to end buyers.
- With an average lifespan of 25 years, solar panels offer a strong investment.
- When it comes to reselling a building, solar panels improve its value because of the reduction in ongoing costs and the reduced carbon emissions.
Solar panels are also cheap and easy to maintain because they have no moving parts that might be subject to wear and tear.
How does solar PV contribute to achieving net zero
Solar PV installations are a key player in achieving net zero. According to the Energy Saving Trust, “to reach net zero emissions by 2050, one of the main areas we need to cut emissions is from generating electricity”.
A solar panel system is an excellent step in reducing your business’ carbon footprint. For example, a typical 250kWp solar PV system will offset approximately 64 tonnes of CO2. This is the equivalent to driving 155,000 miles in a petrol car.
Roof mounted solar PV systems are a popular choice for businesses as they can be fixed to most roof types, including flat roofs. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need the sun to be shining brightly for the solar panels to be effective. Normal daylight is sufficient. So you can generate electricity even on those cloudy days.
With the increasing adoption of smart technologies to control solar PV systems, the demand for solar PV is expected to grow for both residential and commercial properties.
Speak to Robert Whetham Associates about your solar energy project
Get in touch with our experienced team to find out how RWA services help business owners, architects and contractors achieve net zero.