back to article Solar power boom 'unsustainable', says Gov

The Great British Solar Power rush may soon come to a dramatic halt: the amount knocked off 'leccy bills for solar-powered homes will be slashed. Energy minister Greg Barker confirmed today that if cuts to the feed-in tariff (FiT) aren't made, his budget will simply run out. But by how much will it be reduced? Details leaked by …


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  1. Ru

    UK photovoltaic generation needn't be entirely daft...

    but we will need to decrease the cost of PV installations by an order of magnitude before it starts to make sense.

    1. Mark 65

      But to be sensible feed-in tariffs should always be "net", although I guess the take up wouldn't be so great then.

  2. Number6


    Perhaps he ought to cut the wind-power subsidy, given how poor value for money that is, and how generally useless wind power is for reliable electricity generation.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guaranteed ROI?

    I've got a relative coming up to retirement who was comparing the return on money invested in solar panels under this scheme vs spending it on an anuity, and getting very interested in joining a local collective that is being set up. I can see why, the returns she was talking about are obscene, quite frankly.

    Anyone know how the small print works out once you are already in a scheme? Are you guaranteed payment on the terms agreed at that point? Or can they be retroactively adjusted?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Guaranteed ROI?

      Currently once you've done the paperwork your FIT rate is guaranteed and index linked for 25 years. Like all legislation, future governments can change it at whim, but the electricity company that actually pays you the money can't.

    2. Joel 1

      Had to happen...

      Once you are in the scheme, you are guaranteed payments based on that rate from that point on for 25 years. The money doesn't come from Government, but from a fund paid by a levy on all electricity consumers.

      The FIT was originally established to allow the cost of Solar panels to be recouped over a period of 10-12 years. Over the last couple of years, the efficiency of panels have increased, and the costs of installation have come down. This means that panels that would have given you a 2KWp system would now give you a 2.5 or 3 KWp system for similar money. Competition has also reduced the price of installation. This has meant that it is now possible to recoup the costs in 8-10 years instead.

      The reduction in FIT was always planned for, as it was hoped that the costs would come down through this scheme. The success of the scheme has meant that the FIT has come down faster than expected.

      Stats about FIT installations can be found from:

      As of today, there are a total of 92222 PV installations under the FIT, for a combined total of 327.381MW. This compares with totals of 94665 installations for all categories under FIT, generating 384.877MW in total.

      The figures to the end of August give values of 61465 PV installations, for 172.040MW - a 50% increase in 2 months.

      The problem was that the FIT had made PV installations into a no-brainer. At the new rates, it is still probably worth doing, but requires a bit more thought. If you leave it for another year or so, the likely improvements in PV panel capacities might well mean that the payback periods drop again, again improving the cost/benefit ratio. Expect the FIT to be reduced again at some point after that.

      In the mean time, hopefully it is still worthwhile for housing associations to install PV systems across all their properties - this will mean that their tenants benefit from reduced energy costs, and the housing associations can plough the FITs back into their projects over time.

      The most interesting thing is the idea that FITs are only available to properties which are rated C or above. If you are rated below that, then there are far better returns available from insulating your loft etc, so better to push people to grab the low hanging fruit first.

      1. tmTM

        That much?

        So in total all the solar installations generate the same amount as a decent power station?

        Thats fairly impressive really, you'd think the government would get behind it more to increase the amount so we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and gas.

        1. JP19

          as a decent power station

          No that's how much power they produce when they are new and clean and for a few hours a day during the summer.

          A typical 3kW panel installation on a roof in the UK might produce 2700 kWh annually. Hinkley B is a knackered 40 year old nuke currently running at 70% of design output and produced 6.4TWh last year.

          So you would need 2400000 not 92000 domestic PV installations to replace one knackered old nuke and they wouldn't replace it anyway because they only generate power sometimes, during the day and mostly in summer.

        2. Naughtyhorse

          all depends on the cost, and

          the elephant in the renewables room

          'total capacity' this equates to a largely fictitious figure derived, possibly from some notional ideal performance - under laboratory conditions, downhill with the wind behind it!

          So while 400MW _sounds_ like a real power stations worth - that 400MW of _capacity_ will on most days generate what?




          Suddenly don't look so good does it?

          FIT is highway robbery, and the people farming it are... privateers. We should retroactively cancel the whole deal tomorrow - fuck the lot of em!. And the fit industry can return to selling notional timeshares in as yet unbuilt resorts in spain, or whatever it was they did before.

          We live in a country where this winter we can expect around 3000 people to die from cold because they cannot afford heating - yet the govt, with a straight face is suggesting that we continue to massively subsidise a technology that is at best utterly useless.

        3. Andydaws
          Thumb Down

          No, they won't

          "So in total all the solar installations generate the same amount as a decent power station?"

          Don't mix up "capacity" with actual output - you have to multiply by the "capacity factor".

          In Germany, who've had this scheme running for a decade, they see an average capacity factor of just 9%. So, the 327MW quoted is likely to produce about 29MW.

          For comparison, EDF yesterday submitted its planning application for Hinkley Point C - two reactors making up 3,260MW. Assuming they run much as has Sizewell B so far, that'll average about 2,950MW.

          Assuming costs are similar to those in Germany, that 29MW average will have cost about £1.1Bn for kit with a 20-year life. The 2,950MW will cost about £9.5Bn for a plant with a 60 year design life.

          And also set it in the contest of our average and peak demand - 40,000MW and 60,000MW respectively.

      2. It wasnt me
        Thumb Down

        All very interesting but .....

        ....... it just isn't economically viable.

        If there was any benefit to it at all the market would favour it. At the moment, everyone puts a load of money in a pot, and the richer people who can afford the initial investment make some money. Brilliant.

        Heres another idea though. Theres a bloody recession on. How about we can the whole scheme, like sensible countries (Spain) are doing? That way we all get cheaper energy bills. The government can then ignore the green targets like the rest of the world are.

        Same goes for windmills. I used to be a huge fan of wind energy, but when you start looking at the numbers it just simply isnt econimically sensible. We are creating an environment where energy in the UK is artificially expensive. At the moment its being paid for by people like me who dont have PV on their roofs. When businesses have to start paying it the UK will be hit hard.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          hur hur hur

          used to be a huge fan of windmills eh?


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Cheers for the answers!

      -- OP

  4. peter 45


    Did I not read somewhere that FITs value is guaranteed inflation proof for 25 years by the Government?

    Sorry, I just read that last bit again. My bad.

    (PS. Why did I not put any solar panels on my roof. Firstly I worked out that unless you keep the panels for at least 15 years they are just not financially worth it, and secondly I just flat out did not believe the Government's guarantees.

    PPS. All of those panels fitted to peoples roofs under a hire arrangement. Who will own them when all these Solar Panel Companys go bust?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      PS Why would you not keep the panels for 15 years? The second issue is the real problem.

      PPS Whoever buys the company, obviously.

      1. Naughtyhorse


        buying a new inverter at £500 a pop every 5 years is 1 reason that springs to mind.

        cheap enough... if someone else is paying!

  5. Blofeld's Cat

    Double standards?

    So the Government is looking to dump the "subsidy" on solar panels (that actually work), but to keep the subsidy for windmills (which don't).

    Putting aside the subsidy question, it strikes me as odd that the very success of a scheme is now considered grounds for discontinuing it.

    Incidentally (as I'm sure you already know Andrew), solar panels produce some electricity whenever light falls on them, and not just on sunny days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A friend told me once that...

      ...photovoltaic cells on average only generate about as much eletricity as was used to manufacture them, due to their very high failure rate.

      A significant amount of the curcitry on them is there to block the failed sections, whihc would otherwise just draw the current from other cells and burn it as heat.

      The only solar systems that will return the investment in a short(ish) time period are those that heat water. These are cheap to manufacture and cheap to run and save your boiler burning fuel to heat your water.

      My sister had one of those companies selling photo-voltaic stuff call a few weeks back; while they were on the phone she calculated that acording to their figures (with lots of assumptions about massive increases) it would still take a minimum of 16 years to cover the installation costs. When she pointed that out to the guy on the phone he just hung up on her.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I was talking to a man in the pub who knew all about it.

        It must be a lovely way of life to believe rumors from people - take them as gospel, and then spread them around like juicy gossip...

        Who needs to do real research anyhow....

      2. Charles Manning

        I had a friend like that too

        15 or so years back it was true that the energy used in manufacturing was about what you could get out.. The energy payback time was ~20 years. The payback time has now dropped significantly and reliability has generally improved.

        PV cost (closely linked to the amount of energy consumed) has now dropped to the point where the control electronics is now a major part of the expense of a system.

        Solar water heating is a far more achievable technology. More houses should have them. Even in Blighty.

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

        That used to be true. It isn't now.

        Modern PV cells genuinely can generate a lot more energy than used to make and install them.

        However, they aren't a viable alternative to large centralised power stations, and won't be for several years, if not decades.

        First of all, the National Grid was never designed for such a large number of generation plants and would need to be substantially rebuilt to cope - pretty much every substation would need to be replaced.

        Secondly, for the foreseeable future neither wind nor PV are nowhere near economically viable, requiring a *massive* subsidy in the form of price fixing - I'm pretty pretty sure the PV one is much higher in % terms than any subsidy ever paid for any generation scheme.

        After the recent round of price rises, UK domestic customers currently pay roughly 9-10p per kWh.

        Thus the generation company must be being paid considerably less than that, and I would estimate that the recent mean spot price for electricity is around 4-6p. These figures aren't published though, so who knows? Ofgem have proposed forcing publication of this, which might help the politicians see how stupid the FIT scheme is.

        The FITs for both Wind and Solar PV are thus clearly a significant cause of electricity price rises, and thus fuel poverty in the UK.

        The current FITs were a bad idea when made, and a worse idea now. It's pretty much the most regressive 'tax' possible - if you own property and can afford the up-front cost, you are being subsidised by those who don't and can't.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Hooray for (a bit of) common sense

      I'm not sure if it's double-standards, or if they just haven't got round to dealing with wind yet. That's part of National Grid planning, and so is bound to move on a much slower timetable - whereas changes to this consumer scheme are much easier - as it's only a ministerial decision.

      It's also not double-standards in the sense that neither wind, nor domestic PV work. PV suffers from 2 problems in the UK, it's not as efficient in our climate or latitude, and it generates at the wrong time. Most domestic power is used in the early mornings and evenings, when the sun is either still asleep, or has only just got up, and is low in the sky.

      I sell solar-thermal (we were due to start selling PV this year - to take advantage of the ludicrous subsidies). It's probably a better fit with conditions in the UK, and unlike electricity, it's pretty easy to efficiently store hot water. However, even solar-thermal isn't that well suited to individual house installation. It's much more efficient to fit it to offices, blocks of flats and public buildings - where there are big savings to be made. With a house installation, I think you'd be lucky to get payback in 15-20 years, unless you install it yourself.

      Ground and air source heat pumps, coupled with wet underfloor heating are a much better way to go, in my opinion.

      Your point about success of a scheme being grounds to cancel it, is entirely fair. Government has been indecisive, incoherent, and downright crap at this subsidy lark. There have been at least 3 schemes in the last 7 years, all have run out of money within 18 months (usually less), and rather than be topped up, they've each been scrapped - then a new one started with different rules.

      Something interesting, where seed money might help, would be compulsory pipes stuck to any pile sunk as part of a new building. Some break, as they're driven in, but most survive. Then every new tall building could have incredibly low cost ground source heat pumps. Combined with underfloor heating, or even air-con, it would be amazing. It wouldn't even add much to the cost of the build, and the pay-off might be as little as 5 years.

      I once sold a solar-thermal system to a university - who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty. They used it for one hot tap, in a hall of residence, in order to claim some nice subsidy and a green pat on the back for themselves. Doing the whole building would have paid for itself in under 10 years. Still feel a bit guilty about that one.

  6. john loader

    Seems bonkers

    My neighbour has solar panels and gets 43p per unit. Her cable and mine share a connector so her excess is basically bought ny me at around 13p per unit. Somebosy has to pay the 30p difference. Also she uses high drain appliances after dark so she buys cheap power and sells expensive stuff.

    1. David Beck

      she uses high drain appliances after dark

      Then she doesn't know how the FIT payments work. FIT is paid for all generated kW, not just power fed into the grid. So she is buying cheap power in the dark instead of using free power in the day (assumes she generates the full drain during the day)

  7. The BigYin

    I did not install panels

    I have a perfect southerly facing roof and the funds available. There's a few reasons that need to be addressed before I would consider installing:

    1) What information that is available is crap. More understandable data is needed on panel cost, performance, installation fees, maintenance, mean-time-to-failure etc.

    2) The ROI is over 15-25 years. So unless you are staying put for that time, you'd be an idiot to install. Unless...

    3) Do panels add to a home's value? Who gets the feed-in tariff after sale? Again, this information is not available.

    4) Current panels are not efficient enough and there is no information on the dust-to-dust impact of the panels (i.e. do they make-up for the eco cost of their own manufacture?)

    5) It is basically impossible from the easily-digested information how much power one can generate, and calculate the ROI. It can be done, but it's a PITA

    6) Getting prices is nigh-on impossible

    7) Have I mentioned how hard it is to get clear information?

    8) Like "peter 45" I do not trust the government to keep-up the FIT, so the panels must be able to pay for themselves within a reasonable period. From what I can tell, if you do some basic energy saving (i.e. unplug stuff, good insulation) they simply won't. I define a "reasonable period" as 5 years or less.

    9) The tech is not new (almost every house in Germany has solar collectors/cells) so why are they so expensive over here?

    10) Getting clear information is hard. I think I've mentioned this.

    1. Chinashaw

      Have you checked the interweb?

      1) What information that is available is crap. More understandable data is needed on panel cost, performance, installation fees, maintenance, mean-time-to-failure etc.

      ** There is a mountain of information on all this stuff on the web.

      2) The ROI is over 15-25 years. So unless you are staying put for that time, you'd be an idiot to install. Unless...

      ** Not sure who you were being quoted by, but the ROI is now 8-10 years depending on the type of panel (German v Chinese) and the amount you install. Making this a much more feasible install

      3) Do panels add to a home's value? Who gets the feed-in tariff after sale? Again, this information is not available.

      ** The person who buys the house gets the tariff, it is linked to the meter and the owner of the meter. Again this information is easily available. They do add some value to the house, how much is variable and depends on location, amount left of the Fit etc.

      4) Current panels are not efficient enough and there is no information on the dust-to-dust impact of the panels (i.e. do they make-up for the eco cost of their own manufacture?)

      ** What is efficient enough? That is a subjective comment, the current panels do a pretty good job and a 4kwp system has pretty much eliminated my bills and I get the max payments from the Govt. Not so sure on the 'dust to dust' idea but to be frank unless I run that rule on everything I buy what is the point?

      5) It is basically impossible from the easily-digested information how much power one can generate, and calculate the ROI. It can be done, but it's a PITA

      ** ? Huh, have you never used the interweb, it is the easiest thing in the world. There are any number of sites that do this calculation for you. Check out for a company (and no I have nothing to do with them, they just popped up on Google) that gives you all this.

      6) Getting prices is nigh-on impossible

      ** Really, see above, how did you manage to type this on a computer connected to the web and (I assume) can use google and not get all this information?

      7) Have I mentioned how hard it is to get clear information?

      ** See points above.

      8) Like "peter 45" I do not trust the government to keep-up the FIT, so the panels must be able to pay for themselves within a reasonable period. From what I can tell, if you do some basic energy saving (i.e. unplug stuff, good insulation) they simply won't. I define a "reasonable period" as 5 years or less.

      ** agreed on concern about governments but if I save electricity and generate electricity I will get to the point where my bill is 0. Which is better than just saving electricity, where I will never get to that point. I would like to see a return of 5 years but 8 is not so bad.

      9) The tech is not new (almost every house in Germany has solar collectors/cells) so why are they so expensive over here?

      ** They have been ahead of the market for much longer and the market not so new. However in the last 9 months, the costs of a solar installation has dropped by more than 20%.

      10) Getting clear information is hard. I think I've mentioned this.

      ** I think I have mentioned my concern about your inability to use the interweb.

      All in all, go online, go to, type in FIt payment UK and you will see all sorts of sites that can help you.


      Ignore the ones offering the Fit girls until after work...

      1. Rolf Howarth

        I'm 100% with the original poster on this. I tried searching the web and phoning quite a few suppliers to get an idea of the costs of installation and NONE of them wanted to give me that information. Instead, they all insisted they had to send someone round to do a survey (even though I had the exact dimensions and angle of the roof etc. to give them and just wanted a very rough ballpark price to decide whether it worth pursuing or not). The one guy I did let come round and do the survey wasn't an engineer or surveyor but a salesman, who came out with a VERY heavy sales pitch trying to get me to commit there and then on the spot.

        1. The BigYin


          This - in spades.

          The calculators are generally trivial. And like any good maths teacher will tell you "If you do not show your working, you may have arrived that the answer by fluke."

          I do not expect to get a 100% accurate answer, but I want to see the working. I want to know that it's in the ball-park. I do not what to have 10 sales-drones at my door (I can bet they will not be qualified engineers) as I have been bothered by too many target-focused, pushy, arse-wipes in the past.

          The data is out there, but it is a PITA to find and the government does not make it clear.

          For those stating that the return is circa 8 years, I think you are being woefully optimistic. It's a shame that the data is so hard to come by and the information hard to trust; because roofs are wasted area and turning them into generators is a good idea.

          1. Rolf Howarth

            I didn't mean the expected annual income. I can work that out myself from my latitude and the roof area and the angle of the roof. I meant the cost of the panels, the cost of installation, and the annual cost of maintenance (if any).

    2. Joel 1

      I did...

      There are numerous installers available, some of whom have been doing this for 10+ years, some of whom have entered the market more recently, and are more akin to the dodgier end of double glazing salesmen.

      In answer to your point 2, the ROI on my system is probably around 8-9 years, not counting the savings I make on my power. This is not counting the opportunity cost of not using the capital for something else. In my case, I did it on the offset mortgage, so not my capital.

      As far as point 3 goes, it is hard to tell. I think it would make the property easier to sell, and particularly now the FIT has dropped. The FIT can be transferred with the property, and so the value of it becomes negotiable. However, as it generates a clear income, the valuation is relatively straightforward similar to valuing any income stream as an asset value: how much do you need to invest to generate an income stream of x? In theory, you could also keep the FIT, but as you need to read the meter to be able to claim this, that gets awkward. Plus the new occupants could turn it off.

      For point 4, I direct you to

      which suggests a lifetime cycle analysis payback time of 2.5 years (vs a system lifetime of 25-30 years)

      For point 5, try

      For point 8 - not worth the government's while to renege on the FIT, and they would probably have to pay compensation as well as pass an act of parliament to do so. After all, the FIT money doesn't come from the Government purse anyway, but the compensation would.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Gordon 10

    A PV installation was a no-brainer

    If :

    1. You had the cash to pay for it up front.

    2. You trusted that the FIT was guaranteed for the next 20 years.

    Since most people who have installed it were not in position 1 and didn't even consider 2. I predict a lot of angry people and a lot of bust PV installers.

    Expect this to hit a lot of banks and finance houses that were backing the installers who are now not going to see their loans back.

    Since most of the PV installations remain the property of the installer I wonder if the second hand value is enough to make it worth uninstalling the equipment and resell it?

    In which case that might actually make it still worth option 1, as long as you include a healthy incremental mark down on the value of the FIT over the next 20 years.

  10. Thomas 18
    Thumb Down


    I can see the logic, green power generators are more expensive per unit of output so have the government and electricity companies cover the extra cost plus a little incentive. The idea is it leads to lower carbon emissions and more green R&D (lowering production costs etc).

    The problem is that the people who are getting the bonuses are the people who can afford to stump up the initial cash for the panels and own a location to put them. And everyone else pays for it.

    We could achieve the same end result (lowering CO2 emissions) if we just ploughed the cash into nuclear power plants and fusion research and slowly converted all car manufacturing to electric.

    1. AdamT

      I too can see your logic but in this particular case the extra+incentive was more than double the underlying price of standard electricity. At that point you have an entire industry that is entirely based on (and dependent on) the presence of the subsidy/top-up (both direct from the government and forced from other areas of the industry). Which is, as they are now discovering, a somewhat precarious place to be.

      Yes, there are lots of other subsidised industries but (warning: sweeping generalisations ahead) for most of them it is making them a bit cheaper to the consumer, propping up uneconomic situations for social reasons (e.g. remote bus routes) or kick-starting a new industry/technology, not, as in this case, funding the entire industry itself.

  11. Bob H

    I am quite sure that £827m could have been better spent on technologies that were better long-term investments.

    I am unconvinced that solar is environmentally sound, it doesn't produce a great deal of energy for the outlay and with panel failures/maintenance it will have consequences.

    I was going to have it installed, but while I was having doubts about the ecological credentials of PV I then I realised how bloody ugly they look on the neighbours house over the road.

    I'm now considering solar thermal to reduce my gas consumption instead, looks more viable and much cheaper.

    1. peter 45

      Oh wow.

      Some common sense breaking out. So many people have been dazzled by the earning potential of solar panels that they have not realized that virtually any other energy cost saving measure is better value. These are probably the same people who think that investing your money earns you more than paying off your Mortgage.

      However, Top Tip. Your installation should be designed around how you use your hot water. If you continually use how water during the day (e.g. wife and young kids) you can get away with a secondary coil hot water tank. However if you will use most of your hot water in the evenings/first thing, consider a secondary hot water tank.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      £827m could have been better spent

      by, frinstance, loading the cash into trucks and sending it to a coal fired station and burning it say...

      only serious!

  12. Mr Young

    I just don't know

    Even with the subsidy it seems solar panels are still expensive. I would have thought a Ground Source Heat Pump would be more feasible - everybody wants a warm house and hot water so why try and generate electricity?

  13. David Kelly 2

    Free Market Is The Only Way

    If solar power was viable then providers would have to fight off customers demanding their product.

    Solar is not reliable and not at all usable at night. Batteries to average the delivery cost a lot and are a new maintenance item. Taking things the easy way and letting the power grid serve as your "battery" means the utility company still has to build enough capacity to carry you, and has to keep their boilers hot to be ready for your demand.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      The free market is the only way - but no chance of that!

      but you need subsidies for nukes and once you give nukes subsidies then you cant argue about giving subsides to other forms of power.

      Once you give subsidies to other forms of power the price of them goes up - I cant get the PV array I wanted to put up completely self financed for off grid power 5 years ago because it became 'unavailable' and the equivalent has nearly tripled in price as the profiteers have cornered output.

      A low efficiency polysilicon pv array in the 1980's took 15-20 years to pay for itself. If they were still producing these today they would pay for themselves in 3 or 4 years just due to electricity price rises and interest rate reductions. If they had also come down in price a fraction of the equivalent price reduction we've seen in computing costs they would be negligible in cost compared to installation costs - and a damn site cheaper than the tiles you have on your roof.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Wrong. New nuke is not being subsidised.

        The old nukes were built by the public purse, so subsidy or not, the taxpayer picked up the bill anyway.

        The taxpayer also paid for the National Grid to get built, and still pays for it to be run and maintained.

        You're right about the FITs keeping PV artificially high - there are even companies prepared to rent your roof to put them on, which is a clear indication that it's silly money for old rope.

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Ground source heat pump

    Are great if you have lots of ground - on an average 3bed semi they do tend to interfere with the trout lake

    1. Mr Young


      if you live in a block of flats where is your roof space for solar panels? Nothing is 100% but have you really got a trout lake? Lucky bastard:)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. IanPotter

      I've got one of those in my flat

      The little old lady downstairs...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Heat pumps

      How good are air heat pumps for providing warmth inside a home?

  15. Silverburn

    Is it cruel?

    Is cruel to laugh at my neighbour who only last week just forked a serious load of wedge getting 10 PV panels fitted to his roof, fully expecting quick pay back?

    Time to summon up my best Nelson Muntz impression methinks...

    I'm still jealous though. The bastard.

    1. Joel 1

      Smile will be on his face

      If he already has them installed, then he will be the one laughing, as he gets the existing rates (plus RPI) for the next 25 years....

  16. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Call me radical

    But why should there be *any* feed-in tariff for *any* alternative local supply?

    As others have pointed out, that payment's coming from somewhere - specifically, my tax and/or energy bills. A much more straight-forward system that simply winds the meter backwards when you're generating to the grid is both simpler and fairer... and will immediately demonstrate that you're better off reducing your energy needs than installing big-markup high tech equipment with lots of middlemen in the way.

    If a local power generation scheme can generate more cheaply than the grid can supply - installation and running costs included - it can and should succeed in the market. If it can't, it won't... and the cries of 'foul' from those expecting big returns see to suggest that what is available now, whether its driven by sunshine, wind, or happy little raindrops, doesn't.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PV panels are insanity in the UK

    There are however heatpump versions which still work even under snow. Same principles as ground/air-source pumps. They make sense throughout the UK, but PV is lunacy.

    There's a local sports centre nearby which installed PV panels back in the late 1990s. They didn't recover even 50% of the cost of the installation through power savings. They've replaced the invertors 4 times now at a cost which comes close to their annual fuel bill each time.

    Time we stopped blindly accepting crap like windmills (which make fuck-all sense without pumped storage) and PV panels and started looking at how effective they are. For example it may well make sense to install PV panels on the south coast of England, it makes no sense at all to do it in the far North of Scotland. Wind makes sense if you have pumped storage, but makes no sense at all when you don't.

    However since I don't subscribe to the happy clappy brigade here who seem to believe that if you slap a "green" label on something it must be good, I await the inevitable downvotes.

    1. phoenix
      Thumb Up

      No issues here

      Totally agree. This is the problem with the green movement sometimes the wood cannot be seen for the trees. Some 60% energy use in a house is heating. Better to spend the money on insulation and other energy use reduction techniques. Too much weight is given to alternative generating systems when more should be given to energy efficiency measures. Two ways to deal with the issue; produce more by no non-polluting methods or use less.

      1. Silverburn

        @ Phoenix

        60% of energy is heating? good lord, what sort of techie are you??? :-)

        All the tech here are probably running at least 4-5 machines in the house, plus HD TV's etc electric is DOUBLE my heating.

        Mind you, when running an 800W game rig who needs additional heating...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the cost to the Earth long term??


    Seriously, this is a joke when it started! Solar Power? In the UK??


    Nuclear is the only viable way forward.. And the gov know it but someone is always against it.

    1. phoenix


      It is a way and a very expensive one at that. I believe not one nuclear station (in this country at least) has generated enough profit over its lifetime to pay for its decommissioning costs. Low / no C02 (ignoring manufacturing and building) is in its favour with the global warming issues (though I believe electricity generation was never very high on that list anyway). There are questions over stability of uranium supply and the amount the world has left in the ground to factor in as well.

      1. itzman

        you believe wrong

        Or rather since only one nuclear plant has been fully decommissioned, its specious to say what you said.

        At about 800MW a small Magnox plant at - say - 5p wholesale cost generates £350m worth of electricity a year

        they have been operating for ~50 years - say around £17bn worth of electricity.

        They (new nuclear plant of similar capacity) only cost about £2bn to build these days. It is hardly likely they will cost 10 times as much to decommission as to build.

      2. Andydaws

        I'd love to see those numbers

        Because looking at the numbers for new build - where there's now good data from the 8-10 light water reactors that are well advanced in decommissioning, about half of which have restored the site to unlimited use - even including NPV effects, the cost of decommissioning is 2-3% of the value of electricity generated over life. Add in the NPV effect and it's even less.

        Typical decom cost is $500-1000/Kw of capacity (if anything, that should come down as the experience base improves). For a 1600MW EPR that's £1.2Bn

        running for design life at 85% capacity factor for design life (60 years), and averaging £60/MWh is £42Bn. That £60Mwh provides for a return on capital of about 8-10%.

        I'll do theNPV version later, but even assuming prompt decom on shutdown I'm pretty certain it'll be under 1%.

      3. Joel 1

        Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors

        LFTR technology has been around from the 50s, but had the "disadvantage" that they can't be used to make bombs, so were not developed. Produces far less waste and far more efficient than Uranium fission. Thorium is widely available, unlike Uranium. Thorium has 1 million times the energy density of hydrogen/carbon bonds, and can be run in small reactors.

        Recently the Chinese announced that they would be looking to develop LFTR as a commercial energy source. I think that the government should be pushing investment into developing this technology.

        A good intro can be found at

  19. Tom Reg

    Same thing in Canada

    We in Canada (pop 35 million) will pay $200 billion over the next 20 years for about $15 billion worth of green electricity. It works out to several thousand dollars per tonne of CO2, in the best case scenario. It does get urban voters excited, though.

    You can make a phone call, someone comes over installs PV panels - no money leaves your pocket, and you are 'guaranteed' about $1200 per year.

    Keep the 'guaranteed' part in mind - Spain broke all its wind and solar contracts last year, cutting payments.

    Wind does not even work well in Ontario, where we have several GW of water power from Niagara falls, etc.

  20. All names Taken

    Wot? No gordon?

    I am surprised the Gov did not do a gordon on it and turn the the FiT into a TiT (Tax in Tariff)

    1. Andydaws

      Any guesses who was SoS for Energy when this farce was introduced?

      A certain E Miliband.....

  21. Tony Paulazzo

    Part II

    They can use a couple of months defense budget for the initial outlay, they won't miss it.

  22. Richard Wharram


    It's a start I suppose. Although, I have a bit of money that I was considering putting into a solar panel to take advantage of this crazy scheme.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Solar Panel and Wind Turbines

    They are both piss and wind! The sun don't shine enough in the UK, & it's not windy enough in most places. Where it is windy, it's often TOO windy, so they have to be shut down.

    Lets get real here - Nuclear is the only green (zero carbon) option for sustainable energy for the UK.

    Yes - they are expensive to build, and dangerous if they leak, and cost a fortune to decommission - YET they are still the best of a bad bunch compared to Oil and Gas or these pointless solar/wind/wave non-entities.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heat pumps #

    "Air source heat pumps in the home."

    As part of an experiment for an old boss at Defra, I rebuilt my mother's house, and put in four Mistubishi ashps, (though it turns out, one would've been enough,) and a custom designed (by me,) thermal store which heated water, and powered the wet central heating for backup.

    After a measured year, running her whole house on electricity. (Cooking, lighting, telly, heating, hot water.) I managed to average a year round 21 units per day. This is in County Durham. I was fecking cold that winter (-17 outside and they still worked, though god knows how.)

    Furthermore, one of the other recommendations I made was the FiT. Naturally, I ended up working for a solar company, where I intended to propose covering her house, and mine with the bloody things, as advertising.

    Alas, as a contractor, I went this morning as they scaled back.

  25. Tony Paulazzo

    >if you own property and can afford the up-front cost, you are being subsidised by those who don't and can't.<

    Eat the rich!

    Here's an idea, any government that implemented it would be guaranteed a shoe in in the following election:

    The government pays for every roof in England, Wales, Scotland and NI to have PV installations all feeding the national grid (plus I guess wave, wind and river generators), then lower the price of electricity so the companies aren't posting such obscene profits - instant popularity with the electorate.

    1. Richard Wharram
      Thumb Up

      Of course

      The 50% base tax rate to pay for this will be insanely popular \o/

      Where did I put my voting slip ?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another case of Socialism for rent seekers and pain for everyone else.

    Few people can afford to put up panels and wait so long for a payback, also the economics don't add up, so this is just another Socialist Ponzi scheme as the bent quango finally selfishly recognises when their budget is threatened!

    I decided it was a waste of money and a big risk to become a Solar parasite, because I can make much bigger returns by optimising my power usage and investing in honest physical investments; investments which have genuine value without needing any Socialist market corrupting state subsidies to prop them up!

  27. Jack Lampka

    Long live Andrew Orlowski!

    Andrew Orlowski is completely right. We should stop subsidizing energy production. Bye bye subsidies for nuclear power (over 1 billion Pounds in the UK annually). Bye bye subsidies for coal (about 2 billion Euros in Germany annually). Bye bye subsidies for oil (about 4 billion US$ in the U.S. annually). Well, bye bye 550 billion US$ subsidies for fossil fuels spend annually by all countries across the world.

    Too bad, solar energy, you are late to the game. If you came to the game earlier you could have received tons of tax payers' money to help you get going like the nuclear power industry. The nuclear industry has received for example about 150 billion US$ subsidies since its inception in the U.S. alone. And too bad that the cost of fossil fuels exclude all the external cost, we cannot rig the market anymore. Solar energy, no subsidies for you!

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