One of the most influential modern artists, 1995 Turner Prize winner, and most prominent member of the ‘Young British Artists’ (YBA)Damien Hirst, is once again making headlines – this time on the environmental scene.
Following the path of Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk, who created a series of t-shirts to support the Global Ocean Charity. Damien Hirst is set to become the second biggest generator of solar power in the UK – the first being the CIS Tower in Manchester (Cooperative Insurance Society). He is set to spend up to £1.5m on a 310kw solar power system for his studio buildings in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
The solar panels will spread over some 1,800 square metres and will cover all three of Hirst’s warehouses, one of which is his formaldehyde studio, presumably where his famous preserved shark was prepared.
This system is so large that it will account for nearly 2% of the UK’s solar power, although it is not clear whether it will be attached to the national grid. Unfortunately, although it is a great step forward for the UK, we are still lagging behind the rest of Europe in the uptake of clean energy. Germany, for example, has almost 200 times more energy generated by renewable power.
Whilst many have heralded Hirst’s move as a boost for the solar industry, and as a prompt for other environmentally savvy individuals to take charge of their own energy use, David Timms, the Economic Advisor at Friends of the Earth said,
“We can’t rely on the environmentally aware wealthy to nurture the low carbon industries. We need a feed-in tariff scheme which would reward all businesses and individuals who invest in small-scale renewable technologies with a guaranteed premium price for the clean electricity they generate.”
If anyone wants to join Damien in the quest to reduce our reliance on energy generated through fossil fuels, there is still funding available under the Low Carbon Buildings programme.