I had a fantastic morning with United Utilities and their partners Forrest, seeing the new floating solar panels on the Langthwaite Reservoir near Lancaster. It’s good to see an example of a company innovating with renewables and taking environmental issues seriously.
The power generated will be used to run the neighbouring Lancaster water treatment works which supplies water to 152,000 people across Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham.
A floating solar installation consists of “rafts” of floats with the solar panels mounted on top. The rafts are bolted together and anchored, to allow for fluctuations in water level, using specially designed mooring and anchoring systems.
It’s also thought that floating solar panels can help reduce the growth of algae in the water by blocking out the light. Less algae means the treatment process can run with fewer chemicals and less energy.
This is exactly the sort of scheme being proposed by the Labour Party to be rolled out across the country. I find it incomprehensible that this government refuses to embrace and invest in renewables. Instead it gives the go-ahead to companies like Cuadrilla to attempt to extract oil and gas by fracturing the earth – ignoring the concerns and wishes of councils and local people and even the advice from leading scientists from across the world.
Last month those scientists warned that fossil fuel use must be cut dramatically to limit temperature rises. They say there’s only a dozen years left for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. Once it goes up by even half a degree there will be a significant risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people – including us here in the UK.
It’s critical we re-engage with countries seeking to walk away from the Paris Climate Accords. But we must also lead by example.
Labour has set out plans for energy that are ambitious, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and will make Britain the only developed country outside Scandinavia to be on track to meet our climate change obligations. By 2030 we’re committed to creating a sevenfold increase in offshore windfarms and a tripling of solar power, enabling nearly 20m homes to be powered by wind and solar. By 2030 we would double the number of onshore windfarms. Our programme of investment and transformation to achieve a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030 would create over 400,000 skilled jobs – a Green Jobs Revolution that would help tackle climate change, provide sustainable energy for the future and create skilled jobs in every nation and region of the UK. There is no bigger threat facing humanity than climate change. Let’s create a safer future for our children and grandchildren.