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. That Steve Guy


    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?

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

      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.

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        @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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          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...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          cloud panels

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

      2. Richard Bragg

        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.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Unsustainable

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

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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 ....

    4. Chris 3

      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.

    5. Ammaross Danan


      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.

    6. N2 Silver badge

      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

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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?

    1. auburnman

      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!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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...

        1. spodula

          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.)

          1. Al Jones

            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.

            1. admiraljkb

              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.

    2. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge


      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".

    3. Optymystic


      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.

  3. Evan Essence


    "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".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Ru

        "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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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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      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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?

      3. JohnMurray

        Well...since you ask...

      4. Martin 37

        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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        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          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.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I believe ours were made in Austira

    3. JohnMurray


      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....

      1. gerryg

        @ 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

    4. Figgus

      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.

    5. Malmesbury


      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.

    6. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
      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.

    7. Tom Reg

      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.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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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        1. Anonymous Coward
          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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        2. Anonymous Coward
          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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      3. Anonymous Coward
        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.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      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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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "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.


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        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And who eats the food? How did you get access to the internet? How do you reach your fields without using the infrastucture provided and maintained by the society you affect to despise? Where does the clean water you use originate? How did you acquire the land I assume you occupy, the clothes you wear?

          Did you make it all with your big, manly hands?

          You are silly.

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            1. Stu_The_Jock

              Ah, NOW I realise who you are

              You're that bloke driving a "JCB for hire"

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              helped build an awful lot of major infrastructure

              So you dug a few ditches on a lot of building sites did you?

              Get a life you stupid twat.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          rich moron - ted leaf

          Ok, glad to see you are just making stuff up now.

          Your lack of understanding of how economic systems work, and your apparent disdain and disgust for your "customer base" is enough to convince me that if your attitude was real, you would have long since starved.

          If everyone took your approach to life, which you seem to think is morally sound (it isnt), then you would quickly cease to have a source of income. The people you deride provide you with the ability to access the internet and show the world what a dick you are.

          Fortunately I suspect that this is a kind of lame attempt at a Poe.

          If, however, you are real and what you say is even a close approximation of reality, we will read about you in the papers pretty soon. I hope the police are gentle with you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ted leaf

            "I hope the police are gentle with you."

            To Ted Leafforabrain, Actually, I hope they aren't in the least bit gentle. Never more has a Reg commentard deserved the insertion of a truncheon into orifices not previously there.

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    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      What's a gas gun? What's your address? I think the police may be interested.

      What a bigotted twat! Sounds as if you are a red-neck from one of the more deprived parts of the Southern United States. Please return there.

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      2. 404

        @AC 12:51 -> Whoa there, big man!

        This isn't about us "red-neck(s) from one of the more deprived parts of the Southern United States", this is about Ted Leaf!

        I live exactly where you describe (and had my face rubbed in it recently, to my surprise), drink PG Tips daily, have a robust home network, android tablets, family, and lots of guns - and I think Ted Leaf is a damn fool too. Don't put us in the same category, please.

        Just Saying..


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        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Yeah. At this point, much of the cool high tech stuff and software is being developed in the Southern United States. That's where businesses can setup shop, hire a bunch of folks, and not get taxed to oblivion. Hence we have a lot of refugees from California, Michigan and other areas streaming here in droves. Job market here is BOOMING, while the rest of the US is in a recession (some parts in a depression) due to bad economic policy at the State, County and City levels. You can't just tax tax tax, and expect a company to stay, when it can easily "outsource" to a business friendly State in the same country and bring with it the employees that want to move. They're standard of living goes up with less taxes, and the Business's profits go up, and they can hire more employees. All of which start paying more taxes in the end.

          BTW - Ted Leaf is from the English Isles. So not sure why someone decided to start insulting foreign lands where they've probably never been...

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        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Your name visible

          Ah yes. The guy posting as ted leaf says he's ted leaf.

          Where have I seen such circular references before?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ted leaf

      I really hope you're a troll, if not, I pity you. Breaking other people's stuff because you can't see a reason not to suggests a level of narcissism and lack of empathy with others that probably requires professional help. I wouldn't expect that sort of behaviour from my four year old niece.

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    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So you wouldn't mind telling us exactly where you live in order for us to come round and throw flaming bricks through all your windows? Seems fair enough to me if you don't consider causing criminal damage to someone else's property to be a problem.

      As an aside I have to add that the people I know who have had solar panels installed on their bog standard mid terrace homes have scrimped and saved for several years and have had it done mostly on the grounds of principle rather than having thousands of pounds to splurge on whatever takes their fancy. But I guess you wouldn't comprehend possessing principles judging by your posts on this thread.

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    5. gotes

      Whilst I'm against going out and smashing up other peoples' stuff, I do agree that solar panel installations and the feed in tariff are essentially a savings scheme for "rich people", one that once you've paid off the cost of the panels is a nice little earner. This comes at the expense of everyone else who can't afford to put solar panels on their home, and/or don't own their own property with a roof.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "i cannot get any help to do anything on my home,why should these arseholes make money from the rest of us ?."

    Why cant you get any help to install solar panels when other people have?

    Or is it just that you cant get the help to do stuff *you* want to do?

    1. PC Paul

      " "i cannot get any help to do anything on my home,why should these arseholes make money from the rest of us ?."

      Why cant you get any help to install solar panels when other people have?

      Or is it just that you cant get the help to do stuff *you* want to do?"

      To be fair, I can't get help with solar panels either because my house points in the wrong direction.

      But in T.Leafs case, if he was real and not just trolling, I suspect he would get lots of help in the form of benefits which add up to far more than the solar panel subsidy, but in a lot of cases people have been getting those for so long that they have started to view them as a right and therefore not counting for anything...

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        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: er

          ted leaf, you are the living embodiment of the race to the bottom.

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ted leaf poetrollery

        You are "stuck" in local authority housing, while growing & selling food, then using your spare time to destroy the things other people have.

        You are the Daily Mail's wet dream.

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  8. SmithySW

    Money for nothing

    The problem as i see it was the "powers that be" underestimated the financial acumen of various bandwagon jumping companies under the "rent your roof" schemes. Any company that couldnt work out a (about) 8% annual return was far better than that available in the traditional markets needed serious advising. Mightily hacked off with the apologists for these companies bleating about how they're only helping poorer customers cut their bills. Absolute Crap!! Theyre in it to line their pockets substantially which is paid for by (my bill said 11%) a big chunk of everyones energy bill.

    1. gerryg

      @Money for nothing

      Any company that couldnt work out a (about) 8% annual return, inflation proofed and lasting for 25 years was far better than that available in the traditional markets needed serious advising.

      Fixed that for you

  9. peter_dtm

    Subsidies required

    IF solar panals produce electricity THEN no electricity drawn from grid

    IF no electricity drawn from grid THEN money is saved

    Why the need to have tax payers pay anything towards this ? The subsidy pays on CALCULATED output, and forces US , THE CONSUMER OF ELECTRICITY to buy electricty at a stupidly expensive and unsustainable price.

    The only payment made to solar panel owners should be at the same rate the supplier charges, and then ONLY for metered quantities RETURNNED to the grid. Even that isn't very fair to other consumers; but an attempt to make domestic solar producers bid to supply their excess generation would likely cost a fortune..

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "When we move into our own home, I will insist on installing a 5,000-litre insulated accumulator tank, heat-and-PV solar panels, and a heat pump to extract the heat energy from the roof and put it in the tank."

        And that's OK. But (if you were in the UK) why should your neighbours who don't have this extravagant energy infrastructure installation in their home be forced to pay you over the odds for trickle feeding almost useless energy back into the system?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seem to have upset a few people there.

    I don't work for friends of the earth. I'm in IT, and have three cars, and several foreign holidays a year. They wouldn't be happy with that.

    However, I think we'll find, that just like French Politicians were rumoured to have brought in a law in the 70's that said all foreign video recorders had to be tested by a frenchman (one frenchman that is, let's call him Pierre Marchant... taking 2 hours each, in a warehouse near Marseilles,) to stop their country being flooded by foreign imports before they got a chance to build their own industry...

    ...I think we will also find that once the government has given a chance to the solar industry to redirect their lobbying to pay coalition MPs rather than labour ones, and a few solar companies employ the wives and children of said MPs on boards, not to mention a few Tories setting up their own solar companies, we will find that it's all systems go on the Solar front again.

    Besides I think you'll also find that the government have slashed the funding because it was a licence to print money for companies with bilateral agreements with homeowners.

    From their website, Homesun's business model (and I suspect, all the others in this embryonic cottage industry,) is you have several options...

    1. You pay it all, and get the Feed in Tariff.

    2. We pay it all and you get the leccy, and we get the Feed in Tariff.

    Not withstanding no case law existing yet in the event of death, husbands forcing their "vulnerable, victim" wife to sign etc. I think this is a fairly good model.

    All the government is doing is stopping such companies printing money at the expense of the taxpayer, because the cost of installation has halved.

    As it happens, I'm sure if you've a big roof, and live somewhere south of the Humber, insolationwise, you could ring up any of the people involved and they'll still do it for you.

    The whole business truly is money for nothing for the average homeowner who can have it.

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    2. Bronek Kozicki
      Thumb Up

      "I think we will also find that once the government has given a chance to the solar industry to redirect their lobbying to pay coalition MPs rather than labour ones, and a few solar companies employ the wives and children"

      I think said wifes and children are all already employed by wind turbines industry

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  11. Ru

    "free themselves from expensive fossil fuels"

    This line is rather good. I assume the original source meant 'environmentally expensive' because I can't actually think of any fossil fuels which are more expensive than photovoltaic power in the UK. Come to think of it, they're all cheaper than wind, too

    Remember also that non-renewable companies must pay a tribute to those who provide 'clean' energy, so the price has already been artificially biased against fossil fuels!

  12. Oliver King

    Solar subsidy = Fuel Poverty and Job Losses

    The quicker these feed-in tariffs go the better. Who in their right mind thinks that making power more expensive is good for the economy?

    These tariffs are added to our electricity bills and it's us who've never been consulted as to whether we'd like to give our hard-earned to solar companies or our neighbours.

    Each household is being forced to pay more and more for this crackpot scheme.

    If you're poor and live in a council flat on a card meter you can't take advantage of solar, but you can bet that your fuel is getting more expensive due to the family down the road with a nice big detached house ,covered in panels, getting paid more for the power they add to the grid than that from a powerstation.

    It was recently calculated in Spain that for every job created by solar/wind subsidies cost 2.5 in the real economy, a report earlier in the UK showed that we could beat that with 3.7 jobs lost for every green job created.

    So effectively Friends of the Earth are for fuel poverty and unemployment.

    1. fritsd

      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

  13. zerocred

    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.

  14. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    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.

  15. 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

      "...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'.

  16. 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?

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    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

  18. 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.


  19. gerryg

    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


      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.

  20. This Side Up

    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


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

  21. LAGMonkey

    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. <--- 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!!!!

  22. kain preacher

    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 .

  23. 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

  24. Jonas Taylor

    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

      @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...

  25. 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.

  26. Adrian 4 Silver badge


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

    Does the electricity industry use some special ones ?

  27. 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!!!!

  28. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    And of course there is always this

    Fire in the hole!

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