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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    1. fritsd
      Alien

      You're missing a large puzzle piece

      Even if all you say is true, you're missing the following large piece of the puzzle:

      The choice is *NOT* between a future with expensive green energy or a future with cheap energy like we have today.

      The choice is between a future with expensive green energy (requiring investments *TODAY* now that production costs are still low), or a future with not enough energy to sustain a technological civilization.

      Google "peak oil". It was probably between 2005 and this decade. It doesn't actually matter when it was exactly.

      If you're poor, it's tough but energy supply will never get better in the future unless the EU-sponsored ITER and DEMO reactors show potential uses 50 years from now.

      Deal with reality, not "you wish energy would be as cheap in the future as it is now. make it so # 1.". Politicians who tell you this is possible are lying.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not quite true

        As technology improves, North Sea operators keep digging deeper and being able to find / dig up more and more oil and gas.

        The North Sea has been sat at 'peak oil production' since about when it was started, in that it's always been taken out at the best rates possible and shows no real signs of slowing. And it will continue to for a long time- BP are just spending another 6BN or so to refresh and expand _one_ existing field. Which they expect to keep producing economically for another 25 years at least. That's a pretty big investment for a doomed industry.

        Yes, it can't go on forever. But there's enough time left to keep energy prices low(ish) to aid our economic recovery. There's enough time to build a bunch of nuclear plants, certainly- and modern Fission jobs are pretty fuel efficient! There's enough Nuclear power in the world to keep us going at current rates for hundreds of years, especially if some more work goes into Thorium, sea-mining for Uranium, etc. Certainly long enough to convert the world almost totally away from fossil fuels and build a kickass earth-powering spaceborne solar array.

        And if nothing else, there's enough left to justify not having this retarded feed-in tariff on vanity-renewables. They require no fuel, they have apparently got no running costs- surely just running them should be sufficient benefit to justify them? If not, then back to the drawing board with you- and either say at what price they'll be economically viable or engineer yourself a device that's economically viable now.

      2. dwieske

        erm ever heard of Gen IV design that are ready to be built NOW and have a fuel supply of several millenia? (like the GE S-PRISM, an IFR design).

        Another piece of the puzzle: Greenies are anti-nuke, being anti-nuke implies you willfully choose never to get a solution for the highly radioactive waste from old plants, and you WILLFULLY choose to get rid of (lifesaving) nuclear medicine... no wonder I think most Greenies are filthy scum that hurt the environment more than help it through their idiological blindness).

        A more pragmatic approach is needed on this subject

  1. zerocred
    Pirate

    Has anyone tried the feed-in scam?

    Has anyone bought cheap (regular price) electric from the next door neighbour (at say, 13p/kWh) and feeding that back into the grid and pocketing the 42p/kWh?

    Of course you'd need a couple of solar cells on the roof to complete the story, and you couldn't run this scam at night.

    Or has Apple patented this idea already?

    Several people did something similar with special bulk rate calls to their own premium rate numbers at night in the beginning...

    1. Malmesbury

      Slab Murphy is probably doing it now.....

      1. zerocred

        yeah, and getting subsidies to install them in the first place.

  2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Option B

    What our deluded "friends" from FOTE and their Greek-style economics don't seem to realise is that the Treasury nearly always wins. Be sure that, if the Government loses the appeal, a new tax will appear on solar panels. What one stupid Labour government gives away with one hand, the Treasury will collect back with the other.

  3. Alistair Thomas

    I'm surprised that all the bleeding heart organisations that want a greener future seem to overlook that the money to pay for these schemes comes from every electricity user in the form of a stealth tax ("levies"). That means that every poor or elderly person pays, every hard working family pays. The people that benefit from this scheme are the rich investors that can afford to put panels on other people's roofs. Whatever else this scheme is, it is a wealth redistribution scheme from the poor to the rich; from the many to the few. Typical New Labour.

    Of course Tories cannot see this, otherwise they would have fixed the scheme properly to enable the many to participate whilst closing off this sure thing to rich investors. By making the investment unattractive, they just put it even further out of reach to the many domestic users and small businesses they should be convincing to take a stake holding.

    The "Free Electricity" installations that have taken place (where people give up their roofs to have panels installed - they get the electricity (11p/unit?) and the investor keeps the FiT (43p/unit)) can even have a perverse effect whereby, since the electricity is "Free" the users have even less inclination to reduce usage.

    A total mess from beginning to end. Feckless politicians.

    1. Josh 15
      Flame

      "...I'm surprised that all the bleeding heart organisations that want a greener future seem to overlook that the money to pay for these schemes comes from every electricity user in the form of a stealth tax ("levies")..."

      I'm not surprised by it at all. NGOs like Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and Greenpeace are heavily politicised organisations, each with a very specific social engineering agenda regarding bogus AGW and massive 'wealth transfer' from 'richer' nations to 'poorer' ones (or, to be PC, 'less developed nations'). This is what Durban COP-17 was all about - luckily for us, an unsuccessful attempt to rob the world's better off by using thoroughly discredited AGW propaganda. Despite Andrew's excellent reporting around here at the time, I'm not sure many Regs fully understood the frightening implications of what these insane zealots were attempting to do at COP-17 - let's just say their VERY SERIOUS attempt to create, with taxpayer money, a 'World Climate Court' was, for now at least, kicked into the long grass. But just the fact that it, along with countless other truly barmy 'edicts', was proposed for binding legislation is enough to set off alarms all over the place. There was even talk of creating a global 'green' UN taskforce... Orwell was late, but he's looking increasingly on the money.

      Friends of the Earth supporting relatively affluent middle-class Europeans is a fairly typical ploy of such NGOs today. It is not for nothing they spend top dollar on marketing and PR gurus, like any successful business with high consumer brand recognition. Yes, it's cynical, but mostly (and most importantly) it's political. It suits their bigger agenda. Just like Oxfam openly lobbying for a shipping (carbon) tax at Durban - it has nothing to do with putting clean water in African villages or saving rainforests (both perfectly legitimate aims), and everything to do with green taxes and bogus climate 'science' and the misdirection of $billions of public money into unsustainable, uneconomic, unreliable 'renewables'.

  4. mmm mmm

    Climate change minister?

    WTF? Not only is that a waste of money right there, but you'd think they'd be happy to save energy or are they more worried about losing a job that's superfluous anyway?

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    It was the *timing* of the cuts that was the problem.

    As others have noted they took place *before* the consultation process had ended.

    Which does not make it much of a consultation.

    Note the UK has some of the *worst* building regs in Europe for insulation. Some say it's because housebuilders complained that thicker insulation -> higher costs + smaller rooms or fewer houses on a plot.

    Current UK estimates put the additional hardware costs of the "Passivehaus" standard at 14%.

    Actually the real cost is likely to be training the UK standard construction worker to do their job *well* enough to make it sufficiently airtight to *eliminate* the GCH common to UK houses (eliminating *active* heating is a key objective of this 20 year old standard).

    Note that renewable does not *have* to equal unreliable. Micro hydro, nuclear, tidal, wave, anaerobic digestion and geothermal are *all* capable of *reliable* (either 24/7 or well characterised) power output.

    Better think of something though. The 20-25% of UK electricity provided by nuclear reactors is going to be going away sometime fairly soon.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why would I bother to use my own solar power if i can stick it into the grid and get 42p and then buy the cheap stuff at 11p?

    It would be stupid to actually use it when I can sell it to the grid at 42p when the ordinary electrons cost a lot less.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      42p ?

      Go and read the FIT rules, again.

      You get the 42p EVEN IF YOU USE THE ELECTRICITY YOURSELF.

  7. gerryg
    Holmes

    Green Deal - the new scheme

    Before I start, no I don't work for government

    Whether on not FiTs were a middle class wet dream, or indeed the best pension plan one could ever buy, the green aspect was much over rated.

    The output from the scheme is money (that's why it's so popular) - it only saves carbon if the money were not promptly spent on flying abroad or extra petrol for the gas-guzzler.

    The scheme did not require any form of energy saving measure to accompany the FiT.

    The best energy saving measure is to measure the energy not used.

    The government has just proposed a new scheme based on energy efficiency: insulation and so forth.

    You don't make any money from it but based on energy company obligatons the cost of the energy saving measures is funded by the energy saved - a virtuous circle especially as they are no longer able to meet their obligation by shipping you another load of low energy light bulbs

    Reading the usual sources, groups such as FoE are upset that there is "no money" (cash subsidy). Accordingly the market will be developed by those that are green keen.

    According to one government survey (from the consultation on the green deal) nearly half of all lofts are uninsulated.

    If I were classified as someone that is "fuel poor" or qualifying for winter fuel payment is it not reasonable that my right for subsidy is matched by a responsibility to ensure my loft is insulated or other energy saving measures employed?

    Slightly more controversially if I live in an oversized uninsulated house whose problem is my energy bill?

    My morals, my problem but I thought FiTs were obscene (and regressive) but I'm gagging for the green deal.

    For those still reading but who missed the first line, I don't work for government

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Applause!

      The FiT for Solar PV was obviously unsustainable in the first place and a ****ing stupid idea.

      It isn't about being "green" and never was - it was all about the money.

      Money taken from the pockets of people who don't own property and put into the pockets of those who do.

      If that same money had been put towards research and development, it would have been green, because the technology would have been improved.

      As it is, it hasn't - the price of the parts has come down due to economies of scale, but the efficacy has not increased.

      - Perhaps the craziest part of it is the inflation protection. Increasing the price of energy directly causes increased inflation, thus this scheme has a significant built-in inflation spiral. (Ref - Bank of England)

      Thus we have more solar PV panels manufactured and installed causing lots of emissions - mostly not in the UK - and the 'saving' is barely detectable due to the abysmal real output of the panels. I see 50% of rated as a peak output given as a "good" result - thus the actual mean output is considerably lower.

      I would not be surprised if the 10% mean output is an overestimate.

  8. This Side Up
    Flame

    Get your units right!

    " The tariff for schemes which generate up to 4 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity will be reduced from 43.3p/kWh to 21p/kWh if the Government is able to proceed with its planned cuts. Reduced rates are also proposed for schemes between 4kWh and 250kWH, and for scheme owners who receive payments for multiple installations at different sites."

    Generate up to 4kWh over what period? A day? A week? Whole life? What? Or do you mean 4kW? Don't confuse power and energy. The following paragraph makes more sense.

    1. Craigo

      units

      "4 kilowatt hours (kWh)" - Its 4 kilowatts used / generated in an hour.

  9. LAGMonkey
    Mushroom

    Well this is a heated topic

    And as the wise once said...

    "Arguing on the internet is like running in the special Olympics. Even if you win..."

    Any-who... Molten Salt Reactors with Thorium fuel cycle is the way forward in MY book, but that might be different in somebody Else's book.

    Nuke icon? Well that's the LAST time we will see them like that if things go the way I'm hoping for.

    http://energyfromthorium.com/ <--- I don't work for them, but i like to read what they put online.

    1. dwieske

      those will be interesting in the future BUT the thorium tech not as mature as other GENIV designs, and also do not offer a solution for the current nuclear waste....but the IFR does!!!

      To illustrate: just using the currently stored nuclear waste from our belgian plants as fuel, we could power the whole country for several centuries with "carbon-free", CHEAP electricity while getting rid of the longterm highly radioactive waste!!!!

  10. kain preacher Silver badge

    Ahem and now for a public service announcement

    Ted is a troll or of his meds . Either way please don't feed him. Thank you very much and now we return you to your regular schedule programing .

  11. itzman
    Thumb Down

    I hope they protect the solar panel industry as well as they protected the iron, steel coal and car industries.

    Just another public funded parasite

  12. Jonas Taylor
    Stop

    Boneless politicians... my favourite!

    I recently worked on a solar build out at a local farm - two 4kW PV arrays, one to batteries and one to grid - and compared the output to their existing 4kW PV system bought from a separate company. The output of the new system was well over twice that of the existing system, each manage to generate over 2.4kW on an overcast winter day; compared to just under 1kW.

    There really is a huge different in performance between panels, yet customers seem to be looking to pay as little as possible and it hurts them in the long run. You wouldn't expect a Mercedes for the price of a Fiat, yet that is exactly what is happening in the solar industry. It's shocking that people are paying upwards of £12,000 for a system and are still looking for short-term savings rather than the bigger picture, or simply aren't doing the research necessary.

    PS - It's sad we still have nay-sayers suggesting we use fossil fuels instead of renewable. We have fracking poisoning water supplies and causing tremors, multi-billion pound wars over oil, and profiteering energy companies inflicting misery upon those that can least afford it... the current energy system is a disaster. And prices are only set to increase, which leaves us economically and politically vulnerable - what happens when Russia gets more money selling gas to China than the UK; and what about the cost of invading Iran to defend the oil supply after they block the Strait of Hormuz due to US political posturing? The solar subsidies were a step in the right direction and they were being used by councils to help lift some of the poorest families out of fuel-poverty, yet now the government has backed down and taken illegal action to prematurely reduce subsidies.

    1. gerryg
      Facepalm

      @Jonas Taylor

      "The solar subsidies were a step in the right direction and they were being used by councils to help lift some of the poorest families out of fuel-poverty, yet now the government has backed down and taken illegal action to prematurely reduce subsidies"

      There are two themes to this argument - your like of this subsidy and your dislike ot this government.

      Perhaps you could explain why these subsidies were a step in the right direction?

      £12,000, your figure, is a lot of money. How does spending this alleviate fuel poverty?

      At £500/year (in current cost terms) that's a 24 year subsidy directly to the fuel poor (I digress to mention there is only poverty not the hypothecated BS of fuel poverty) .

      Then the greater the install base the higher the cost of conventional electricity to everyone including the "fuel poor" (the, admittedly unachieveable, end case would be everyone paying the subsidy to themselves, but poor people in the lower decks of blocks of flats would be worst hit).

      What about "green" - do you have any input costs for PV? end of life disposal costs? One figure I heard/read (I can't substantiate) is that the input energy costs (not total environmetal costs) for PV is about eight years of output - let's hope that if I'm right that's not peak output.

      The subsidy is only green if it is subsequently used for low carbon expenditure.

      What about "jobs"? The stuff is all made elsewhere (only assembled here), so it does little for manufacturing ermployment. if the installation jobs only exist because of the ridiculous subsidies then why not pay people to do something more societally useful? Such as repair delapidated homes that are energy black holes? Make them more energy effiicient? Reduce energy usage (er, as in real "green"), Reduce fuel poverty buy reducing energy requirements?

      But no, lets carry on with this regressive (look at the install base, look at who's paying, look at who's financing) ridiculous scheme because you don't lke this government - hurrah for your politics.

      BTW the green deal was also started under the previous administration but was not seen as sexy by _any_ of the gutless bandwagon jumping backbenchers never mind the Islington socialist pushing FiTs at the time (the one currently considered so good at his job that even his own party think he's crap)

      (see previous post, not in government (nor anywhere else remotely connected to all this)

      PS: Are you are an installer? If so, shouldn't you declare?

    2. dwieske

      as long as the energy storage is not there it's absolute MADNESS to install over 5% wind/solar.....denmark illustrates that issue perfectly the whole focus is on production, not solving the enourmous problem that the larger you scale, the bigger the issue of intermittency and seasonal variation becomes!

    3. dwieske

      also these subsisides are nothing more than a reverse robin hood tax.....make poor people pay more to give cash to wealthy homeowners and companies...

  13. Nev Silver badge

    PV: Red Herring Technology

    Yet more bogus eco-technology.

    PV is an expensive, energy and resource intensive technology to manufacture.

    It is a very inefficient way to generate electricity and all the inflated generation figures are

    based on panels installed in the California desert that track the sun.

    Panels (in there limited lifespan) are unlikely to generate as much energy as was used to manufacture and install them. Especially fixed, dirty ones installed on non-optimally placed roofs.

    The biggest part of the con is that generating companies will just gouge customers to pay these absurdly high feed-in tariff.

    Start with the simple stuff: insulation and double-glazing.

  14. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    WTF?

    @JohnMurray

    Every transformer I ever met was bidirectional. The very term 'mutual inductance' implies it.

    Does the electricity industry use some special ones ?

  15. dwieske

    as the danish told obama: the whole wind and solar industry is a SUBSIDIE industry...they can not survive economically without receiving loads of tax money in the form of subsidies, same for their "customers"......using this tech large scale right now is causing it to be nothing more than a 'reverse robin hood tax" when people who rent/can't afford panels pay a lot of (tax)money and extra charges so the industrie and the users can turn a profit...

    Stop dicking around in the UK and fasttrack the building of that (S)-Prism reactor!!!!

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    And of course there is always this

    http://www.channel4.com/news/is-the-future-of-british-coal-burning-it-underground

    Fire in the hole!

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