back to article UK's solar 'leccy cash slash ruled unlawful

Campaigning organisations and the solar industry have won their legal challenge to the Government's decision to reduce subsidies to businesses and homes which use solar panels to generate their own energy. Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth, which had sought judicial review of the Government's timescale for …

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Unsustainable

If your business model is unsustainable economically without being propped up by massive amounts of subsidy handouts then frankly you need to consider if you should be in business.

UK doesn't get much sun so why would they assume solar power would be viable?

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Boffin

Bring me sunshine...

"UK doesn't get much sun so why would they assume solar power would be viable?"

Contrary to popular belief, photo-voltaic cells produce electricity when ANY light of suitable wavelength falls on them. They don't need bright sunlight and still generate SOME electricity on cloudy days.

That said, the electrical demands of the average house cannot generally be met by solar panels, even with a large battery bank as storage. Solar power can however be viable for off-grid locations with limited power demands.

The subsidy and feed-in tariff, as with wind turbines, exist purely for political reasons.

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Meh

Re: Unsustainable

I guess we'd better scrap those nuclear plans as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Sustainable or not

"If your business model is unsustainable economically without being propped up by massive amounts of subsidy handouts then frankly you need to consider if you should be in business."

Surely that would hammer pretty much every business sector in the country.

Farming, Nuclear, Transport, Banking ....

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I think the main point was....

... that the business *was* expecting reduced subsidy and indeed had planned for it. What the industry wasn't expecting was for the old plans to be ripped up without warning. It is very difficult for any business to operate if the government arbitrarily moves the goal posts.

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Stop

@Blofeld's Cat - SOME doesn't make it worthwhile

I've seen some numbers from a home PV system that puts its average output at 10% of its rated maximum. Wind power averages 25-30%, and is cheaper for the same rated capacity. It's not a technology well suited to our climate.

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Anonymous Coward

@Steve

I don't know which numbers you've seen but my partners parents have a solar array in the west midlands and - during winter - are getting 50% of rated capacity, peak. How you average that out is another matter...

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cloud panels

That's what we need. Turn those constant drops of falling water into energy.

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Coat

PV

PV has promise, even in the climate of the UK. However, wind power is way more expensive, and requires ongoing maintenance to sustain, and it relies on how regular the wind is. Keep the subs in PV, reduce funding for wind farms.

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N2

Re - Unsustainable

They do generate a small amount of power on a cloudy day but not much

I personally think its all part of Labours scorched earth exit policy

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Under the rules you are not allowed to "store" electricity produced by your panels.

And if like us you don't have a smart meter then it is assumed that 50% generated is sent back to the grid. This can be an advantage so if you use lot's of high use appliances when generating, even if you use 150% of generated power, you still get 3.1p x units gen'd/2 on top of the 43.3p FiT payment.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm disappointed that this article made no attempt to explain the main question I had over this whole affair, which is: why this could possibly be illegal in the first place? What law has been broken? Is it a contractual thing?

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Silver badge

Hear hear. From what I can glean from the article, it seems to hinge on the 12 Dec 2011 cutoff point being illegal, but it is still unclear why. Is it because the consultation ended after that? Inquiring minds want to know!

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Reasons...

According to the judgement...

The Court ruled the government had breached rules governing consultation exercises, when it announced that proposed cuts to feed-in tariff incentives would impact installations completed before the end of the consultation period.

Mr Justice Mitting said ministers were "proposing to make an unlawful decision" and as a result the court would be "amenable to a judicial review".

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Consultation

By inference from the contents of the article it might have a great deal to do with the fact that the implementation date for the change precedes the date for the end of the consultation on that change. We could be forgiven for thinking that the legal challenge was not so much to the decision as to the process through which it was taken.

Interesting to note one or the more orthodox uses of that wonderfully flexible word 'sustainable'. In this context unsustainable = I can't afford it.

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Anonymous Coward

Presumably because no minister could be considered to be acting rationally if they made a decision before the consultation underpinning that decision had even been completed. I mean, we all know that 'consultation exercises' are merely legal niceties that don't have any influence, but even so, it's taking the piss a bit to not even pretend to listen...

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To quote Yes minister:

"But The comittee haven't reported."

"Yes, they have, unofficially..."

"But They haven't taken all the evidence yet."

"The Central Policy Review Staff don't sully their elevated minds with anything as sordid as evidence.!"

"You may take it that they'll be advising the PM to simplify the administration of government."

Different comittee, different time, different subject, same outcome...

(BTW, if you havent got one already, you should really go out and buy yourself a copy of the Yes minister box set. Seriously.)

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Facepalm

Yes, Prime Minister

I recently saw some episodes, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry, they were so topical, even 25 years later.

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Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister

Are brilliant programs. Very funny, and timelessly topical for how government actually works. (or dysfunctionally works). I highly recommend watching the whole thing to any youngster prior to voting. Best to disillusion them early.

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Headmaster

Kilowatt-hours?

"schemes which generate up to 4 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity"

4kWh [or is that 4kWH? The article is inconsistent, even within one sentence] over the lifetime of the installation? Very easy. Per second? Not so easy. Or perhaps the author means 4kWh per hour, in other words, 4kW. Indeed, in the next paragraph it's "50kW".

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Anonymous Coward

Good point. It's actually 4kWp, where the p is for 'peak output'.

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Anonymous Coward

Wild and fanciful websites offering all kinds of comparisons. Mostly all biased.

The oil industry's really pushing the anti solar agenda. Without oil dependency, what has many a despot got going for him.

1. Each solar panel added lasts for decades. When they stop working, they have within them, the raw materials to make another one, Mazumba-wise.

2. Each panel added contributes to the net decrease of Co2 for Kyoto and others. (Whether you agree or not.) It is an absolute reduction. It's is not a proportional saving. Absolute reductions add up to a whole, proportional savings never do.

3. Each panel added reduces our dependency on foreign nutters.

4. Most houses in the UK (and all of them south of Hull,) if they had their entire roof tiles as solar panels (such as solar century's solar tiles,) would export electricity over the year. This would mean shutting down power stations in the summer, and reducing our balance of payments deficit, and reducing our dependency on gas, (hence Russia.)

5. Solar power is clean as shit. No plutonium ends in the hands of other nutters during the manufacture.

6. Solar power is ludicrously portable. Building a school in the middle of nowhere, in Africa somewhere requires massive subsidy.

7. As more solar comes on line, more and more things will take advantage of it. As CO2 ashp heating becomes reality, nuclear would heat the country all through the winter.

I for one would change the law to insist all houses have to have their entire roof covered in panels, or solar tiles, and the house must be thoroughly insulated, before they can be inherited. The people inheriting would still get bucket loads of cash, and it wouldn't affect the owners as they'd still be dead.

I can understand why interested parties in the oil industry would however, be lobbying against this, (if lobbying's an appropriate description of the practice,) our incoming MPs though.

Lobbying always has to happen with a new government, as the outgoing government's no longer running the protection racket.

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Anonymous Coward

AC @ 1039 GMT

Well said.

The less nutters we rely on the better.

Without finding alternative sources of energy, the UK is at the mercy of regimes of varying trustworthiness & stability. This is madness.

Yes Solar / Wind / Hydro (whatever) might not be perfect and it doesnt have a direct link back to the industrial revolution, but if we dont support it in its embryonic stages it never will.

Nurture it now and our children will reap the benefits. Kill it now and we shaft ourselves.

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Ru
Meh

"alternative sources of energy"

2 words for you: "Shale Gas". Not good enough? How about 3 more? "Thorium Fuel Cycle".

I'm not entirely sure why propping up a greviously uneconomical power generation scheme with money we don't have is such a great idea, but it is clear that the school of economics open to renewable energy enthusiasts is not one which shares its secrets with the rest of us.

A solar industry that cannot stand alone is no industry at all: it lies somewhere between a vanity project and a folly. I wholeheartedly support research into making PV power a realistic choice, and I'd much rather that my hard-earned tax money go into funding sensible research projects rather than lining the pockets of the opportunistic middle class who can make a pretty penny from their home solar installations at the expense of everyone else in the country.

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Anonymous Coward

@ted leaf

Glad your argument is so strong, self-evident and well reasoned that you do not need to resort to name calling and rudeness. Think you just persuaded me; if you are that desparate, I believe the other chap.

By the way, importing once per panel is possibly less often than for ever for coal, gas, uranium plus all the one-offs for building and maintaining the infrastructure to use them. Other countries (parts of Switzerland for example) do require solar panels on new houses.

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If

every house was tiled with pv panels the system would not work.

Quite simply they can only feed into the local loop....transformers tend to get in the way....

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Anonymous Coward

@ted leaf

yes it does reduce dependency on foreign imports.

"Buy panel once" is less than "buy oil/gas constantly" is it not?

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Anonymous Coward

Other options

There certainly are other options than solar - but apparently not sufficiently viable for anyone to be exploiting them anywhere near as much as even the derided solar panels.

Which power generation industry in the UK stands alone?

Solar panels are not, despite apparent beliefs here, the sole preserve of an evil UK Middle Class, unless we can agree that home ownership is a middle class thing.

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Well...since you ask...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

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Flame

Who's the idiot?

A tiny bit of research would have avoided you making a complete fool of yourself. Panels are indeed made in the UK (Romag), Wales (Sharp), and Europe (Shuco) to name the first examples that come to mind.

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FAIL

Entirely made in the UK?

"A tiny bit of research would have avoided you making a complete fool of yourself. Panels are indeed made in the UK"

A tiny bit more research would show those depend on components not made in the UK. Plus those are subsidised, hence the cost of the scam. One problem for the solar industry is it's competing against cheap panels made in China. Hence why German & Spanish solar scammers are going bust as those governments already lowered their subsidies.

Good news for the solar industry though is that prices for solar panels and components may increase again given they're threatening a trade war over the decision to tax their airlines.. Which is bizarrely where green policy may actually save us money if it means fewer solar installations get installed.

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Facepalm

Don't forget to hand every homeowner a broom so they can climb up on their house and brush off 6" of snow a few times every winter.

Aside from that, I don't even think your point would be a true one. I haven't done the math on it, but the numbers don't seem like they would add up. Even if your statement WAS true, how would the cost effectiveness of it compare over the lifetime of the panels as compared to buying cheap grid electricity made at some central power station? Please don't count subsidies in this, because subsidies are NEVER free. Someone always pays for them.

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@ If..

every house was tiled with pv panels the system would not work.

Quite simply they would be paying the subsidy for the electricity generated by their PV panels to themselves paid for by a levy on their conventional electricity consumption

Fixed it for you

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Hmmmmm

You have solar panels that live forever? And the converters etc?

If solar panels were essentially free (and the electronics) then what you say would be true. But they aren't. Yet.

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Thumb Down

Oil industry?

There are plenty of uses for oil, the 'Oil Industry' would be fine. In fact they are the Energy Industry since some of the best solar panels are made by BP.

I am amazed the the government are scrapping the subsidy since it actually acts as a form of tax.

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Stop

Solar power - dirty, wasteful power for the UK (or any cloudy place)

Solar power is not clean. In the UK, at the 43p per kWh, it produces about the same carbon footprint as natural gas, and only about 2 times cleaner than coal.

Just take the 43p and look up carbon per $1000 of economic activity. That gets you to a number about 10 times higher than nuclear. Then add in the other side of the comic activity to get Solar Power going - interconnection, government legal costs, and you get another huge amount - (40p) per kWh - which also adds to the footprint.

If all electricity was subsidized at that same rate, the cost of delivered electricity would be over 100p /kwh - which would mean that either the entire economy would revolve around plugging stuff in (which would not happen), or everyone would simply not use the grid (which is already happening).

As the subsidizations of electricity rise, on - site co-gen using natural gas takes over - from the large customers down to the smaller ones. Nat gas co gen at home costs about 10p / kWh and you get free hot water and heat!

You can't play god with the economy. The Soviets proved that.

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Anonymous Coward

I believe ours were made in Austira

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Anonymous Coward

"Lobbying always has to happen with a new government, as the outgoing government's no longer running the protection racket."

Funny considering your whole post sounds like a press release for Friends of the Earth.

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Anonymous Coward

Friends of the Earth

Oh, right, sounds like it might be related to FotE, must just be wrong then - no further discussion or thought needed.

Damn those commie scum.

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Unhappy

Are you aware there is a difference between trying to persuade someone as opposed to paying them (in one form or another) to spout your viewpoint?

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Anonymous Coward

When did they let you out?

Seems you missed a full education. However, as an evolutionary mistake, I suppose we can let you wilt away.

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Anonymous Coward

@ted leaf

Oh noes !!one1!one!!!!

The EVIL middle class again.

BTW - you might want to review the theories of natural selection and descent with modification. There is no concept of an "evolutionary mistake" - there are species which fail to adapt to a changing environment, and pandas appear to be a species that has been over-specialised and now can no longer survive in the environment they have left. Its up to you if you want to think humans are involved with that environmental change.

You may notice that none of this is even slightly relevant to the utility of solar panels as one source (amongst many) of energy in the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Damn those commie scum, maybe.

Welcome to Britain, you might know it as England but we always forgive ignorance when it suits us.

I was just wondering if I was being accused of hating the liberal commies you and Fox seem to spend so much time inventing or maybe it's the 50's and 60's commies that Joe McCarthy got so riled by, hmmmm

Could you possible be referring to one of the dozens of pseudo communist states so reviled for any excuse by America?

It really is hard to tell, if I might be a commie because I wish to give the government some of my money so they can heal the poor and look after unemployed people.

Is that the sort of commie you mean, if so ten I am gladly one of them commie liberal Obamacare traitors.

Or I would be if I lived in that backward country.

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Anonymous Coward

reasons

"none of us could think of a reason not to"

The frequent defence of the vandal.

Your neighbourhood may be different, but where I live solar panels are not the exclusive resource of the rich.

My next door neighbour is an old age pensioner who used a significant percentage of his life savings to buy them simply because he knew he wouldnt be able to afford the constant rise of power-prices.

Ironically, for most houses the panels will be covered by insurance and your criminal damage is only increasing the insurance premiums for every household in the area. So even if you dont get caught (and I actually hope that you do), you are still hurting yourself more than anything else.

Wonderful.

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