The entire idea of feed in tariffs for solar PV electricty generation is ludicrous anyway. For the declared aim is to develop the industry, support an infant industry, so that prices fall and finally it will become economic to actually use solar PV electricty.
But Britain is a tiny, tiny, market by global standards for this technology. It’s not just that we’re only throwing a few hundred million £s at it, it’s that given what we have for weather, it’s not a good technology for us anyway. It’s the huge great big gobs of money that places like Germany, Spain and China are throwing at the industry which is making it cheaper: prices for the cells themselves are falling by 4% a quarter, 20% a year when compounded. And yes, it is the falling price of the cells which is driving prices down, not their packaging or installation. And absolutely no one at all is sugggesting that we should build a solar cell manufacturing plant in the UK: for the price of a silicon fab alone we could build four or five nuclear power stations.
So the rational thing for the UK to do is simply wait a decade, when solar PV will at current cost cutting rates actually be economic, and then install it.
But even if those who rule us insist that we must indeed have feed in tariffs, then we do in fact want them to go to the most, not the least, efficient solar PV plants. So, is that what is being done?
The companies are furious over the potential Government reversal on supporting subsidies for farms of up to 5 megawatts – projects which cover acres of the countryside or old industrial land in solar panels . However, Ministers now look set to ensure the £360m pot of funding is directed solely to individuals putting solar panels or wind turbines on their roofs.
No, that isn’t what is being done at all. The government is specifically and exactly insisting that whatever taxpayer or energy user subsidies are on offer must be directed to the most inefficient subset of an already inefficient technology. One that will become efficient soon enough without our doing anything at all.
This is insane.
Come along now Westminster and Whitehall: the villages of England would like their idiots back, where we can keep an eye on them and make sure they come to no harm and they do no harm to us.