Re: Heads in the cloud or so far up their...
> I have solar panels, and I do benefit from "everyone" who has to buy electricity.
And therein lies the rub. You are, to put it mildly, "well off" - you'd have to be to be able to afford the system. Or as a relative put it when ordering his, "if they're offering free money, I'll have some of that".
But your panels are part of the problem, and that you only include the FIT that you get in the economics is also part of the problem - it's the same "sleight of hand" the windmill apologists use.
The article is fairly well balanced actually - and makes the point that when your panels are in bright sunshine, something else (mostly OCGT) must "close the taps" a little; conversely, when the sun goes down or a cloud goes over, something elsewhere must "open the taps" a little.
So when you are generating, you are taking away income from an operator of a gas turbine - but that same operator is expected to be there to cover for when you can't supply anything. In addition, by having to start and stop more frequently, and ramp up output quite a lot at times, the wear and tear on the equipment is much higher which puts the running costs up at the same time as his total output is reduced - double whammy for increased per-unit lecky costs. Question for you, how much contribution do your panels make to the evening peak, on one of those cold dark, windless winter evenings when (in Dec 2010) we came very close to running out of reserve ? Answer - SFA !
So the true cost of your panels is not the FIT you see (or the ROCs for windmills), it also includes the higher per-unit cost of the lecky produced by the gas turbine operator, and the availability payments made to them to persuade them to stay open. That is a significant cost - and one that both the wind and sunshine lobbies are very quiet on, to the extent that you could call it being dishonest. And for those infrequent, but real, periods when demand is really high and renewables really do produce SFA - we end up with diesel because the capital is cheap, and they can sit around for long periods doing nothing but wait for them to be needed.
And don't expect France to save us via the cross channel interconnector. At the same time as we are in the dark, so will most of Europe, all having to import power from those countries still able to produce something. So Germany will be importing from Poland where they burn a lot of coal. Everyone will be hoping that France has some of it's nuclear power to spare, but generally will all have our gas turbines run up to max - and fingers crossed that nothing trips out.
Of course, give it a few more years and that latter situation will be dealt with - those (so called) "smart" meters are primarily there to allow for more fine grained rolling blackouts. As a kid we thought it was fun in the 70s - I don't think we would now with our much higher reliance on lecky.
BTW - I'm changing my consumer unit soon, and while I'm at it I'll be adding a generator input facility (then these green policies can result in my running a small and definitely non-green petrol genny to keep the lights on).