Feeds

Solar power boom 'unsustainable', says Gov

Massive payouts to rooftop panel owners to be slashed

Security for virtualized datacentres

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 the Energy Savings Trust suggest that domestic tariffs will fall from 43.3p/kWh to 21p/kWh, effectively doubling the length of time required to pay back an investment in solar generating equipment. The quango believes the tariff change will be made in five weeks; meanwhile a consultation started today and ends on 23 December.

"This boom has been built on unsustainable foundations," writes energy minister Greg Barker on The Guardian website today. Barker also confirmed additional qualifications so that only "energy efficient" buildings receive the full tariff.

The FiT isn't a subsidy, strictly speaking, but it is a market-rigging mechanism that ensures electricity is more expensive to consumers than it should be. The government compels energy companies to pay owners of home solar installations a hefty sum - at the moment, several times the price of the electricity - whenever they generate any power, even if they use that power themselves rather than supplying it to the Grid. (The panel owners are also paid a small extra sum if the power goes to the Grid rather than using it themselves.) Some of this money comes from the government, and some comes from higher prices charged to ordinary businesses and consumers who don't have solar panels.

As they are in large part a flat tax on electricity which hits the poor much harder than the rich, climate activist George Monbiot has described FiTs as "extortionate, useless [and] deeply regressive".

Even after the proposed FiT reductions, the scheme will still push up electricity prices - an awkward fact given that the number of households living in fuel poverty, according to the Energy Dept, has doubled since 2004.

The idea of micro-power generation has the imprimatur of the Prime Minister. While he was still leader of the opposition, David Cameron was filmed on the roof of the offices of Greenpeace in London extolling the virtues of micro-generation:

Posted by 'webcameronuk' on December 17, 2007

Barker says the installed capacity is higher than expected and that "the generous pot of £867m secured for the feed-in tariff scheme by the Coalition last year will be completely devoured if we don't act now".

Increasingly governments have realised that market intervention to increase solar and wind renewable energy isn't sustainable. In Spain, where the solar rush was halted last year, a study found that one 'green' job cost 2.2 real jobs.

And in Spain, unlike the UK, the sun does occasionally appear. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.