Solar Sunrise

Exchange With Nuclear Devotee

I have been in e-mail correspondence with a nuclear power devotee. He had the cheek to question the solar power industry by dismissing it as merely a construction project. What ? A nuclear power fanatic accusing another technology’s industry of being a construction project ? Of all the energy technologies out there, nuclear power has to be the granddaddy of all construction projects. And the neat trick they pull ? They never pay to clean up after themselves. That’s an uber-subsidy right there. But then, there’s the top-up insurance perhaps being offered by the state. And the “carbon floor price” or guaranteed payments under “contract for difference”. The nuclear power industry has been lapping this all up. They want the conditions to be right for them to “invest” in the UK. More like “dump”…Anyroad, I digress. Here’s part of the dialogue :-

To: Jo Abbess
Date: 1st November 2011

1. why does the country need solar power? – we are at a very high latitude so it does not seem the ideal renewable to use

2 What sector is being grown? The sector seems to me mainly building rather than tech

3 long payback translates to expensive and uneconomic

4 a state subsidy means someone else pays – if there is a real gain at the end then maybe – but I still cannot really see what we are encouraging as tech seems largely international – people will source the tech from where it is is best/cheapest – at the moment the far east.

I have to say that the logic of this escapes me – I think XXXXXXXX is right and this was yet another expensive and unsustainable commitment made by a profligate administration. If too many people have solar at that price then who pays the subsidy? The poor people who could not afford to put it in whose bills get loaded up? – come on!

To: Nuclear Fan
Date: 1st November 2011

Your points are such easy unevidenced disinformation, it will be a mere blur to wipe them out.

1. Germany. Similar geographical latitude. High renewables penetration. Excellent prospects for economy :-

2. You need to understand the difference between real asset building versus mere economic activity. Putting up solar panels to generate electricity are a long-term investment, with continuous payback. Their production outlives their financing. They are a genuine asset to the country. Economic growth means building real assets in order to grow the production capacity of the economy – that’s what solar power provides for us.

I agree that the UK solar industry is mostly about construction than technology at the moment.

I used to work in a microelectronics production facility in London, where I did clean room process control. It no longer exists. I also did process control in a microelectronics assembly facility in The Netherlands for a short while. Research and development went to Asia. It is time to roll back 30 years of globalisation and for the UK to have properly-scaled solar power production facilities built in the UK.

Maybe asking the NREL to share this ?

3. Just because it takes a while to payback the costs does not mean it is not worth doing. Solar power creates a lasting asset, way beyond the payback phase. Let’s contrast this to say road-building – worthless in 15 years. Or school-building – worthless in 35 years. [ NOTE : This is probably why the Coalition Government want the State Pension Fund to absorb the cost of these “investments”. Utterly callous. Worse than the Private Finance Initiative. ]

4. The feed in tariff solar power state subsidy means that everybody pays, but the amount is not that large, and the economic knock-on benefits from a subsidy to homeowners is enormous. What I hope to receive in feed in tariff, I shall spend in my local economy and in the renewables economy, building more assets. The key thing is that a lot of the feed in tariff has been directed explicitly to community schemes and housing association schemes – giving the asset of power generation to the poorer and more mutual.

The full rate feed in tariff, as rightly pointed out by many, has been high enough to allow the people with no large savings to borrow money to get solar power – that’s power to the poor !

I think it was Caroline Flint in Parliament yesterday who said that green policies cost each householder £24 on their annual bills, but that the rise in home energy bills over the last year has been £175. What is causing that then ? The greed of the large nuclear power companies who won’t have what are technically called “subsidies” but are the same thing – the new Electricity Market Reform will probably offer existing nuclear generators a carbon floor price. For what ?

Please do get your facts more in line with reality.

One reply on “Exchange With Nuclear Devotee”

The capacity factor of solar PV in this country is so low that it is hardly worth the effort of taking them out of the packing cases and installing them.

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