2022 followed on from a bumper year of solar growth in 2021. Image: Andreas Gücklhorn (unsplash).

In 2022, utility-scale solar farms became a hot button topic amid the Conservative leadership race, with candidates looking to pitch the clean energy technology as in opposition to food security.

But despite the critiques from some politicians, the buildout of solar power has seemingly gone from strength to strength.

Here’s a look a the top five most read ground-mount solar stories on Solar Power Portal over the last year:


1. Energy sector hits back as Truss dubs solar farms ‘paraphernalia’

Published: 16 August

The most read ground-mount solar story over the last year was the energy sector hitting back at then-Conservative leadership candidate and MP for South West Norfolk Liz Truss calling solar farms “paraphernalia”.

With concerns over both energy and food security paramount in 2022, solar quickly became a hot topic within the leadership race over the summer. Both Truss and her opponent Rishi Sunak – the current prime minister after Truss left office just 44 days into her premiership – positioned solar as in opposition to food security as they looked to curry favour.

The solar sector and its supporters were quick to highlight that solar land use is small, and sites are built on land not suitable for much agriculture. Indeed, if every solar farm currently put forward was built, this would still account for less than 0.4% of the UK’s agricultural land and 0.28% of the UK’s entire land area, according to Solar Energy UK.

2. UK installs 556MW of new solar capacity in first six months of 2022

Published: 14 July

In the first of three articles written by Finlay Colville, Solar Media’s head of market research, to make it into the most read, the second spot is taken by the article detailing the UK’s installation of 556MW of new solar capacity in the first six months of 2022.

This represented 80% growth in new solar PV installations compared to the same period last year, with all segments increasing amid the favourable environment.

3. UK installed 730MW of solar PV in 2021

Published: 17 February

Next up was the UK installing 730MW of solar PV in 2021, making it one of the most significant years for solar PV in the UK.

“During 2021, the market fully established itself in a post-subsidy climate, no longer dependent on government hand-outs by way of production-based incentives,” wrote Colville.

4. Meteoric growth in new solar farm planning in UK sees pipeline reach a staggering 37GW

Published: 10 January

The third of Colville’s blogs to make it into the top five ground-mount solar stories of 2022 looked at the growth in new solar farm planning applications in the UK, with the pipeline of projects reaching a staggering 37GW in 2021.

It dissected the overall pipeline of projects, looking at which stakeholders were driving the growth and what other trends were supporting them.

5. Solar Energy UK ‘deeply concerned’ as Truss and Sunak hit out at land use for solar farms

Published: 3 August

The final article to gain a spot in our top five, like number one focuses on the debate that emerged around solar and land use in the UK in 2022.  

Following comments made by both Sunak and Truss during the Conservative leadership candidate race, Solar Energy UK said it was “deeply concerned”.

“[Solar farms] offer cheap, clean power and time and again have been proven to be popular with the public. Yet the two candidates for prime minister are falling over themselves to say how much they dislike solar farms. How did we end up in this alternate universe?” said Chris Hewett, chief executive of the trade association Solar Energy UK at the time.