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back to article 'Leccy price hike: Greens to blame as well as energy biz

UK consumers seem set to suffer a vicious round of electricity price rises in the near future: and for the first time the energy suppliers are not only blaming the gas market but openly pointing the finger at steadily escalating government green policies whose effect is to drive up utility bills. ScottishPower retail director …

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Unfortunately accurate

Lewis you are IMHO spot on with this critisism of the riduculous energy / subsidy policy currently in place for the UK.

I'll happily vote for whoever is most vocally against this CO2 nonsense - please stand up so I can see you.

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Mushroom

Re: Unfortunately accurate

"Lewis you are IMHO spot on with this critisism of the riduculous energy / subsidy policy currently in place for the UK."

Well, I suppose you've given us another entertaining misspelling of "ridiculous" instead of following the usual moronic form seen all too often on these forums. As for the UK's energy policy, subsidies on renewables and Lewis's inability to anticipate improvements in solar technology (in particular) are the least of the nation's worries. Lewis could have at least quantified the role of gas price increases, but that would have taken the thunder out of his rant, highlighted the UK's stupid overdependency on gas, and taken the wind out of shill, erm, shale gas's sails.

"I'll happily vote for whoever is most vocally against this CO2 nonsense - please stand up so I can see you."

And then we can all point the finger and laugh. But not for long, because it's short-sighted fools like yourself that burden future generations with the clean-up from today's quick fixes and foot-stamping overindulgence.

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unfortunately inaccurate

"Who's paying for your neighbour's solar panels?" You are -> yes you are and I thank you kindly ;)

Some of Lewis's mistakes had to be pointed out.

1. Prices - since I paid less than £3.5K per kwp you can stick those ridicules figures up your backside where I suspect you got them

2. My sharp panels have a 25 guarantee for 80% performance from Sharp and there are many (obviously older tech) systems out there that have been running for 30 years already

"The solar panels would never pay for themselves normally in the UK's climate" - stop peddling this uk weather is so bad for solar myth, don't confuse pissing it down a lot with lack of sun power over the course of a year; we have the same solar irradiation in the south east as northern Germany.

I'll grant you that payback without FIT with today's energy prices would be a struggle but as you point out prices will keep going up and soon even without FIT they will break even on their own.

£600 in feed in tariff since March, thanks for your money Lewis.

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Mushroom

Nothern Germany?

Isn't that the place where southern Germans don't want to live because it is raining all the time?

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title goes here

I apologise for my slightly "ridiculous" dyslexia, or maybe I just typed too fast, or can't spell.

I stand by my comments though, in fact I'll raise the bar:-

CO2 is a non problem, solving a "non problem" by throwing fortunes of other peoples money at it is more than a little insane IMHO.

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Timing

"I'll grant you that payback without FIT with today's energy prices would be a struggle but as you point out prices will keep going up and soon even without FIT they will break even on their own."

Then wait for the tech to mature instead of tilting at windmills enacting silly fake markets in the form of subsidies...

Fact is, if you need to subsidize something then it isn't a viable option.

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Anonymous Coward

Subsidised industries.

Apparently neither coal nor nuclear are viable then. Nor agriculture.

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No

it's because it's raining e-coli the whole time.

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Mushroom

PV.

PV is a f***ing joke at British latitudes. I'm doubting the people who approve these rooftop PV grant schemes that are currently swimming in cash ever sat down and ran a reasonable set of numbers on them. Even using the rather generous AM 1.5 standard the returns are so pitiful you'd have to be certifiably insane to ever think they were a feasible means of generating electricity in the UK.

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Holmes

source?

that does sound suspicioulsly like the cold hard truth, unfortunately,

however can you direct me at any actual figures to look at?

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another effing assumption about british weather and solar

Try some facts - solar irradiation maps and pv estimation in europe:

http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php#

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Sauce

AM (air mass) 1.5 is actually a particular spectrum of light, but for the purposes rating PV panels it also assumes an available insolation of 1000 W/m^2. This is at equatorial latitudes.

For non heliostatic panels (i.e. fixed on your rooftop) then the available level of insolation will approximate Cos Latitude, so for London that is 1000 x Cos (51) = 630 W/m^2

Then you multiply this by the conversion efficiency of your panels (on the order of 15-20%) so you get 630 x 0.2 = 126 W/m^2 of installed panel (That's assuming some rather efficient panels are being used)

This is gives you the absolute best-case-scenario peak output, you then need to make quite a lot of assumptions about cloud cover, daylight hours, diffuse vs direct sunlight and there is a lot of room to fiddle the numbers. Assuming they can hit the equivalent of 2 hours peak output per day all year round then your getting 2x365x126 = 92 kWh / m^2 / year

Sounds pretty good until you realise that per-capita electricity usage in the UK (for 2008 according to the world bank) was about 6000 kWh.

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@Pypes

actually for me just north of london, it'll be 118 kWh / M^2 / year, for a roof on a 3 bed semi (28.6 m^2) that equals 3375 kWh which isn't as small as you were trying to make out with your per area figures. My figures are not only based on pvgis but on actual real systems over a full year, no air mass calculations were required to make it look like I was being accurate.

I was what I thought was a heavy user of electric (cooker, tv, computers, tumble dryer) and used ~ 3600kWh a year so almost generate what I consume (obviously too much in summer and not enough in winter) but no one said solar was to meet 100% of our needs. But from your figures of 6000 kWh some people must be running a lot of electric heaters

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@A25

AM1.5 is the standard system for rating PV panels, it's got nothing to do with the appearance of accuracy.

The 6000 kWh / capita / year figure includes non-domestic (i.e. commercial / industrial) consumption

I don't really see how energy-per-unit area is some sort of jedi mind trick to imply small returns. If you are of the opinion you can afford 28.6 m^2 of PV without taking out a 2nd mortgage on your home then go for it, just don't pretend that it would ever be an economically viable solution without hugely inflated feed-in tariffs.

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Solar PV: Be surprised

Q1: Where on Earth does the most solar energy fall in one day? That's right, the North and South Poles.

Q2: Does more solar energy per square metre fall on the UK during the summer than EVER reaches the Equator? That's right, yes it does.

In the summer, day length beats latitude.

Subsidising middle class PV-ites is unfair, but so are many subsidies, for farmers for instance. However, these houses then don't need to be supplied with electricity which would otherwise have emitted carbon.

If we want the cheapest electricity possible we should just burn coal and to hell the consequences. if you want to build any kind of sustainable energy infrastructure you have to start somewhere. These policies are imperfect, but they are a step in the right direction.

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Mistake in your Maths: Conflict with reality

1. Buy a light meter from Maplin and measure it. Over 1100 W/m^2 is available on a sunny day in London.

2. Why? Because one tilts the solar panels to compensate for the latitude.

3. Actually in Summer, solar panels work better in the UK than they EVER do at the Equator: day length beats angle.

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@M31

There is a reason a standard spectrum is used to assess PV, and that has got everything to do with the bandgap of your chosen semi-conductor. Your maplin-tier light meter is telling you exactly fuck all of use.

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Boffin

Calculate it for yourself...

I'm amazed how many register readers can't operate a spreadsheet.

A 4kWp solar system (the biggest you can install without reducing your FIT rate or the power company complaining) costs:

- £15,000 if you go for the super fab latest panels

- £12,000 if you go for cheaper ones (but with the same guarantees)

- £9,000 if you install it yourself (admittedly unlikely)

I've ignored the discounts you can get through group buying of up to 20%.

With southern UK solar incident radiation at ground level (someone else posted the EU site for that) I generate roughly 4000 kWh per year (3940 as calculated but everyone I know with a PV system has achieved better than that). Working on the £15k system with no FIT and using all the generated power (i.e. ignoring the export income) and with inflation of 5% a year I will be at payback after 10 years and be better off by £40,000 in 25 years (although I'd expect the panels to continue generating for a while after that).

With the FIT I will be at payback after 5 years and £100,000 better off in 25 years (or £30,000 if you correct for the value of money by allowing for inflation - 340% over 25 years).

In the interest of being fastidiously fair, I'd probably have to replace the £2,000 inverter twice in 25 years (they tend to only last 10 years on average). On the other hand, electricity prices are going up faster than inflation because of all those renewable power installations (!?)

I really can't understand why new houses don't all have solar panels by default. Mine are paying a couple of months of my mortgages each year.

---------

On a much more frivolous and badly researched note, if I used the generated power to charge a Tesla roadster and use it for business travel (no company car tax on electric cars by the way so I can buy the car out of pre-corporation tax profits) I would also get another £4,000 in mileage (10,000 miles at 40p a mile, tax free and I don't need to buy any petrol). That and the FIT would pay for the Tesla and the solar panels after only 11 years.

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A couple details

Could you please tell me how much you get paid per Kw, and how much does you neighbour pay the electric company to use it?

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@Pypes

"If you are of the opinion you can afford 28.6 m^2 of PV without taking out a 2nd mortgage on your home then go for it"

You need to spend less time with theory and more with real examples. Those 28.6 m^2 of panels you say require a 2nd mortgage is actually the panels I bought for my house, the whole system cost less than most brand new cars and with the FIT subsidy has a pay back of less than 10 years and will run for 25+.

So using my system lets go for a real world example instead of your theory

- 22 x 180Watt Sharp panels (each panel having dimensions 1m x 1.3m), so 3.96kWp

- 1 x SMA SunnyBoy 4000HF inverter

- Installation, wiring etc

- Sunny Beam display (a little gadget to tell me current power output, daily money made etc, just couldn't resist)

- My council being scumbags and wanting to make money out of me so insisting on their own inspections, fully chargeable of course (despite installer being competent body scheme, MCS certified etc), making me get structural engineer roof loadings -> councils in Devon don't try to extract money in this way and just let you get on with it.

Total cost: just under £14,000

According to pvgis (and I have checked those figures against other systems that have been running for a full year and they seem close), I'll generate > 3300 kWh. Since 1st April it's been 43.3p / kWh and without an export meter you get an assumed 50% exported at 3.1p / kWh. So that's 44.85 p / kWh which give me a FIT payment of £1480 a year index linked for the next 25 years (went up 4.8% this year).

Since install in March I have generated more than 1,400kWh.

If you can't afford 14k then do get a loan over 10 years, it'll payback the interest on the loan and you'll have 15 years of no loan and money coming in. Or get a smaller system, I went for the sweet spot of 4kWp, if you go over that then the tariff drops so you need to go over 4kWp by a significant amount.

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@Pypes @M31

Michael 31 is correct, panels may be rated using 1000 W/m^2 however in the real world it is sometimes higher than that. Ultimately the peak light level is irrelevant since without a tracking system you won't hit peak for large portions of the morning and afternoon.

All that matters is the yearly output for 1 kWp of panels. Even Lewis admitted for london that was 800kWh / kWp (it's actually nearer 850 but I'll let him of that one)

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@A25 again

I struggle to see the point you're trying to make.

The panels were expensive (£14k), and your "great returns" are pretty much solely dependant on getting paid several times the going rate for electricity.

I think rather than hitting everybody's back pocket to subsidise tin pot environmental statements on middle class rooftops, we should be investing in something that has at least a slim chance at producing energy on a similar scale, and at similar cost as current dino-juice methods. (I would suggest LFTR but I fear the huge amount of negative feedback)

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@Pypes again

"I struggle to see the point you're trying to make."

My point was to give people real figures instead of your fag packet calculations. Also 14K is not a second mortgage, most people would think nothing of buying a car on finance but seem to struggle with something that will actually pay back and some (yes only due to FIT, I never said I wasn't making a profit without FIT)

"subsidise tin pot environmental statements on middle class rooftops"

Ultimately I'm not doing it for the environmental reason, it was a pure financial decision. As for that class statement, I merely see it as a way to get back some of my tax from the benefit class who are burning electric during the working week on their 50 inch plasmas and game consoles *ducks and awaits the flames and down votes*

My other point about light levels was because someone corrected you and then you went ape on their arse telling them their figures weren't worth shit when yours were the ones plucked out of your arse

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What you're missing

"The panels were expensive (£14k), and your 'great returns' are pretty much solely dependant on getting paid several times the going rate for electricity."

Ah, but the going rate for electricity is only ever going to go up, not down. The point will come soon enough when, even if you were only paid the going rate for what you generated (which is functionally equivalent to the case of never generating a Joule more than you can use), it would still be enough to offset the cost of the panels.

Meanwhile, the more middle-class people install solar panels, the cheaper they will get for working-class people as economies of scale kick in, process hit rates improve, tooling costs get amortised and patents expire. Come to think of it, the last days of fossil fuels probably will be marked by people eager to show that they can comfortably afford to use non-renewable energy wastefully; it will be a roof *without* solar panels that indicates affluence .....

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@whoever

I think people underestimate the cost (a significant fraction of which is embodied energy) of producing PV grade silicone, or are we going to start buying into these monthly "dirty cheap thin-film PV cells are just around the corner" announcements. Neither of these techs are particularly new, and they (well poly / mono silicone) are already produced on a pretty industrial scale and have been for some time, and guess what, they still ain't cheap.

Also, you should ad hominem more andrew, it really makes for a good argument, especially while you are fucking your neighbours over to make a quick buck (LOOK I can do it too!)

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Trollface

Do not feed the trolls

Wow, you've now thrown in some Latin for good measure to go with your 'calculations', clearly your intellect is vastly superior. All hail Pypes our overlord

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FAIL

Profits of Doom

Once a google search for /scottishpower profits/ returns something other than obscene levels then they (and you) might have a point.

2011 had their spanish owners whining about a mere £1.2 bn.

Are you suggesting they aren't making enough money ?

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So take the advice of Martin Lewis...

... at www.moneysavingexpert.com and fix your energy prices now!

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Re:So take the advice of Martin Lewis...

I rather think that's just playing a mugs game! What the energy companies (and the Government) should be doing is investing in better sources of energy such as Nuclear power.

Whilst it's 'nice' to be green etc., this doesn't help with the bills! A properly thought out policy which inludes nuclear power would mean we're not facing an energy crisis a decade down the road.

Investing in renewable sources of energy is sensible, but there are only so many wind farms and solar panels that can be built/installed. Putting pressure on manufactureres/engineers to make their electronics more efficeint in power usage, should also be part of this.

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Remind me again

How much money did the enrgy companies lose last year?

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Childcatcher

Generate power on gym bikes

They would generate renewable energy, although probably not enough to power the lights plasma tvs and air conditioning

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Joke

re: Generate power on gym bikes

...for the plasma TV, it can happen. 200W is feasible for puny humans. For half-hour, I guess.

... For the AC, not so much, since the simplest of the ACs, wall-hanging units of 12.000 BTUs, translate to a 3HP electric motor. Sort of. Not counting losses or the actual thermodynamic losses. Take it as a drunken napkin-math.

If you can pedal hard enough to generate 3 FREAKING HORSEPOWER on a steady basis, you don't even need a motorcycle.

Absolutely correct.

PS. I saw a gym that had a fan powered by whoever was on the bikes. If nobody is pedalling, the fan dies off. Later a LCD TV was added. I guess it took at least 2 people to make it work steady.

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Calling captain obvious

The whole point of the Green movement has been that we are not actually paying the real cost of energy. Switching to renewable green energy means that costs will obviously go up somewhat, as you now wind up paying more of the cost for solar, wind, etc...

What everyone forgets is all the other costs associated with cheap energy like coal and oil... pollution, health problems, etc... that all need to be paid for by everyone through high taxes and insurance rates.

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Feed-in tariffs are an insurance policy

The point of paying more for renewable energy now is that when the oil and gas run out, we won't be left without any power. Since we are already past peak oil, we are talking about supply restrictions within 20 years.

Like any insurance premium, you pay more now to save money later. In this case, some of us are paying a premium now for our children and grandchildren's sake. This seems fair to everyone except for greedy selfish bastards.

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le tit

as a greedy selfish bastard I agree with you completely

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not bad except...

Load growth and generation capacity mean that the lights start going out in the uk before 2020

feedin tarrifs are all about subsidising wind.

Wind will _never_ be a viable source of power in the uk

(end your internal dialogue, you are wrong, get over it)

Established wind farms are _massively_ under performing, 'expert' estimates of output and the behaviour of the wind have proved to be 'significantly over optimistic' the revised pumped-hydro requirements would involve flooding most of the lake district and ALL of scotland (bit of poetic license, but the actual figure is a-fucking-lot).

Wind was the gubbermints way of avoiding the hard answer to the question.

not having electricity is not an option.

the only way to get the electricity we need is nuclear.

spend the money, do it properly it's prolly more ok than most other options.... mahoosive earthquakes and hyuwuj tsunamis notwithstanding.

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... the oil and gas run out...

Your naivety is charming. The government is the biggest greedy and selfish bastard, and can have you for breakfast. So should the oil and gas run out, your solar panels will be immediately nationalised. There will of course be no money left to pay com-pen-say-shun.

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Cunning?

"But a flat tax like that - one which hits poorer people, to whom the electricity bill is a noticeable expense, disproportionately hard - would be politically difficult to implement, so the way it is kept off the government's books is particularly cunning."

Nah! The man responsible is the same one who used PFI to put just about all government spending "off the books". Hiding a flat-rate tax that hits his own electoral base hardest was just a stroll in the park for him.

He's also the guy who switched off the fuel escalator, which is the closest thing we've ever had to a pure carbon tax. I remain of the opinion that if you want to reduce CO2 emissions, then the simple but foolproof mechanism is to tax fossil fuels at source. There are only a few hundred mines and refineries that would need to be regulated and you are already measuring their output. You can multiply, can't you? What's the problem?

And if you think a flat-rate carbon tax is too awful to contemplate, then you clearly don't really want to reduce CO2 emissions that badly, so stop interfering with the energy market and let the various technologies compete on a level playing field and let your electorate enjoy some cheaper energy prices.

Either way, what the government is doing right now is moronic.

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Not really...

"""There are only a few hundred mines and refineries that would need to be regulated and you are already measuring their output."""

You might not know this (Well, you've clearly no idea) that a large portion of fossil fuels are never burned, and therefore do not contribute CO2 to the atmosphere. Do you propose to tax the evil, evil carbon that ends up stuck in PVC pipes, road tar, or tight vinyl pants (coincidentally I'm in favor of taxing the latter, if worn by blokes)? Seems like that's a bit far-reaching for an environmental tax.

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tax at source...

I wholeheartedly agree, more of the money that is spent on oil and gas needs to be retained in saudi arabia, iraq, iran, norway, etc. As a norwegian I sully support this.

You might however have some difficulty explaining to the UK Exchequer why all of a sudden all the taxes they used to put on fuels of various kinds are now suddenly not going to them anymore ;)

tax at source will work the day that we don't have individual countries anymore.

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Ah yes...

..the FIT 'subsidy' that isn't a subsidy.

The greens go 'Nuclear would never survive without subsidies' but if anyone suggests cutting the FIT to a more sane level they act as if the world is going to end. Heck you can claim FIT subsidy for systems that are not even connected to the grid! There are companies out there desperate to get any bit of rooftop or land to stick some 'renewables' on and cream off the profit while they can.

I can't remember the source but I read an article about the German PV subsidies and it basically said it did little for innovation. To get the most money you had to get in early and to get the quickest payback most went for cheap chinese panels. Yes you get a booming trade in installation but once everyone has them all the jobs go away.

There are 2 reasons why companies like RES fight tooth and nail to stick windturbines all over the countryside. Either 1) they are really concerned about CO2 and saving the planet (so why are they not also investing in storage systems to store overgeneration for later use) or 2) they just want to make oodles of cash.

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Solar Panels

What I'm seeing here is that its a battery style wearing out - so after 20 years they still work, just only at 80% efficiency.

I still say the absolute biggest problem with solar and wind is simply availability. We can make the things cheaper, perhaps we can make something organic that works of chlorophyll. BUT - probably my highest energy use in the day is at 6:30 when I have a morning (electric) shower. Let me just look up how well PV cells work on average at 6:30 am....oh right, they don't. Guess its cold showers from now on.

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Anonymous Coward

Wow - you're right!

I've been blind all along there is no way of storing energy for use the following morning... I'm going to rip out my hot water storage tank and recycle all those batteries. Thanks, you've done me a real service...

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Biggest problem

I think the biggest problem is the return on investment. It takes 20-30 years to break even and even after 5-10 years there may be a much better product out that produces twice as much power.

They don't make commercial sense but can help reduce CO2.

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"They don't make commercial sense but can help reduce CO2."

Not really. Conventional power stations must be kept running to provide power when the sun goes in or the wind stops blowing. These stations operate in a less efficient mode due to all the ramping up and down - and as a result generate more CO2.

Second point is one of scale: The total average output from the UKs 3000+ windmills is less than half the output of just ONE conventional plant!

eg. 5.2GW installed wind x 25% average output due to windspeed variation = 1.3GW average output. Compared to Drax 3.8GW x 80% availability = 3GW available output.

Now compare the cost, land area and environmental impact of 3000 windturbines vs one conventional powerstation.

As for solar: forget about it. It doesn't even register. Total UK installed capacity = 0.08GWp x 10% capacity factor accounting for clouds/angle of sun etc = 0.008GW average output.

Yes - that's right - every solar panel in the UK can only muster 1/375th of Drax's output.

This stuff ain't rocket science. Unfortunately our politicians are fools and under the spell of renewables snakeoil salesmen.

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WTF?

And nuclear?

How long would it take nuclear to pay for itself without subsidy? Oh yes, that's right - it never has, so nobody knows.

People like Page don't like paying for electricity that actually costs a realistic value. Fossil-fuel generation is unsustainable and everything else is more expensive. What does he want us to do, exactly? Electricity is inevitably going to cost more, although perhaps it would be nice to see an escalating tax on it with the revenues used to subsidise the bills of the poor to cover necessities. I doubt Page and his right-wing nutjobs would like that much, though.

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So why..

"How long would it take nuclear to pay for itself without subsidy? Oh yes, that's right - it never has, so nobody knows."

So why do companies only build 'renewables' when there is a subsidy? The greenie arguement about nuclear would have some weight if the greens were not utterly reliant on even bigger subsidies themselves.

Last year the UK gov spent 1bn on nuclear. In the same time 1.6bn in subsidies was coughed out for UK windfarms. And over 10 years the German gov has handed over some 40+bn Eur in PV subsidies. This green energy seems pretty awful value for money and you can't even be sure it will generate anything.

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Mushroom

nuclear costs

I do not have the evidance for this but I was told by somone who works in the nuclear decomising industry is that plants in the USA do pay for them selfs and pay a tax on all energy sold to pay for the cost of decomishing

and by the way before anyboady says so the reasion a lot of decomishing at the moment is very expencive is the things that at the momeny are begin decomishened are test reactors a lot of witch where pushed to the limites (as you do in tests) ans therefor there where some unexpected results witch are costly to clean up

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education costs

Sadly speelign this pour detrackts badlie form any seriuz point yur trying to make. Honestly, if you can't be arsed to take in the fundamentals that school has been trying to push into you all your life, why should we believe that you have the intelligence to sort out fact, fiction, and conspiracy theory?

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@ Lonesome Twin, you rude bastard ...

... I take it you have heard of dyslexia? However, you have no idea what it means, do you?

I don't actually know mmied, but s/he is a regular poster here, unlike you, and whilst the spelling is not perfect, there is no doubt of his/her intelligence.

How about you go away and keep your spiteful opinions to yourself?

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