The UK government wants to encourage people to put solar panels on their roofs. I don’t like to state the obvious, but clearly the government is as clueless about UK weather as the University of East Anglia.
Those who hate environmentalism have spent years looking for the definitive example of a great green rip-off. Finally it arrives, and nobody notices. The government is about to shift £8.6bn from the poor to the middle classes. It expects a loss on this scheme of £8.2bn, or 95%
How is this scheme going to be funded?
On 1 April the government introduces its feed-in tariffs. These oblige electricity companies to pay people for the power they produce at home. The money will come from their [other] customers in the form of higher bills. It would make sense, if we didn’t know that the technologies the scheme will reward are comically inefficient.
All that money to produce energy inefficiently? Ideology above common sense.
The government wants everyone to get the same rate of return. So while the electricity you might generate from large wind turbines and hydro plants will earn you 4.5p per kilowatt hour, mini wind turbines get 34p, and solar panels 41p. In other words, the government acknowledges that micro wind and solar PV in the UK are between seven and nine times less cost-effective than the alternatives.
Just to emphasise how daft the idea is.
The reason for these astonishing costs is that the government expects most people who use this scheme to install solar panels. Solar PV is a great technology – if you live in southern California. But the further from the equator you travel, the less sense it makes. It’s not just that the amount of power PV panels produce at this latitude is risible, they also produce it at the wrong time. In hot countries, where air conditioning guzzles electricity, peak demand coincides with peak solar radiation. In the UK, peak demand takes place between 5pm and 7pm on winter evenings. Do I need to spell out the implications?
But surely it must do some good?
We don’t need to guess the results: the German government made the same mistake 10 years ago. By 2006 its generous feed-in tariffs had stimulated 230,000 solar roofs, at a cost of ¤1.2bn. Their total contribution to the country’s electricity supply was 0.4%. Their total contribution to carbon savings, as a paper in the journal Energy Policy points out, is zero.
There is one way it could make you money, but still not save any carbon emissions.
….it can’t be long before thousands of petty criminals discover the perfect carousel fraud, bypassing their solar panels by connecting the incoming wire to the outgoing wire. By buying electricity for 7p and selling it for 44p (if you sell power to the grid rather than using it yourself, you get an extra 3p), they’ll make a 600% profit.
It saves no emissions, and is just the latest useless eco-accessory.
The solar panel is the ideal modern status symbol, which signifies both wealth and moral superiority, even if it’s perfectly useless.
Source: Guardian UK
Possibly related posts: