34 comments on “Why?

  1. This part is true at least:

    > Most of the growing number of jobs in the solar industry have more to do with maintaining and installing panels

    Erecting a ladder, climbing onto the roof, installing the thing, connecting it up, testing, etc. – it’s actually quite labour-intensive. Even if the product cost falls, the installation cost remains fairly constant. Then there’s the servicing, repairs, upgrades…. the total cost of ownership for domestic solar isn’t nearly as cheap as the headline figures suggest.

  2. retro fitting to an existing roof is simultaneously the ugliest and most expensive place to put them. Especially in a country with lots of land.

  3. It’s just a fetish, isn’t it?

    If greenies actually cared about the things they claim to care about, they’d champion clean, reliable, low-footprint atomic power over carpeting the country with inherently unreliable and highly conspicuous solar panels.

    But apart from Hansen, Lomborg and a handful of others, greenies hate nuclear and have effectively killed new atomic plants in the USA and Britain since the 1980’s.

    But far from protecting U.S. interests, the tariffs would stifle the current solar boom, destroying American jobs and dragging down clean energy innovation.

    All the clean energy innovation in the world isn’t going to make solar relevant as anything other than a nice-to-have ancillary power source, particularly in a world where electricity demand is surging (and will only increase if another greeny fetish – electric cars – ever catches on).

    This is like fiddling around with more efficient ways to make the batteries in your remote control when your entire town is in danger of blackouts.

  4. The best idea is to not bother with solar piddle-power AT ALL. Or maybe a bit for rooftop hotwater heating etc if you are a Scrooge-type who thinks it worth the capital cost.

    End all ecofreak subsidies and just forget about the nonsense. If there is any way that such capers can find a real niche in a subsidy deleted free market good luck to them. At least they won’t be costing us money or putting the future at risk.

  5. Ugly bloody things, I may have a solar panel when technology has reduced the size down to a satellite dish.

  6. Yes, any mandate on the technology or origin of energy will simply increase the cost of adopting the best solution in any given case.

    There is light, all night every night, inside my woodshed thanks to a single off-the-shelf solar LED unit from the local DIY, whose rechargeable batteries are replaceable. For other uses, it is still cheaper to wire power here from a power plant 20 miles away than to produce my own, never mind the fake cost figures.

    SS2: Yes, the leftie opposition to nuclear has always seemed to be opposition to technology (which empowers thinkers over feelers) and to corporations, like opposition to baby formula in Africa. So the support of Big Solar is baffling.

  7. PS – Secretary Perry, who famously advocated discontinuing the Energy department he now leads, will next week complete or kill a proposal for a new subsidy to energy industries that can withstand a supply shock by having tangible reserves: a bias toward fossil fuels every bit as dumb as Obama’s bias toward wind-and-solar.

    By the end of the month, Trump will have to decide what to do about a successful petition by two non-US-owned solar companies that they have been harmed by Chinese companies doing the job more efficiently. Trump is explicitly allowed to fix the remedy (including none at all) on a whim: either promoting commercial freedom or indulging a desire to thumb his nose at China.

  8. “Secretary Perry, who famously advocated discontinuing the Energy department he now leads”

    I find it refreshing that a politician is working to eliminate his agency. We need 600 more like him.

    The Energy Department produces no energy; it just harasses those who do.

  9. Gamecock – Past tense. Perry was working to eliminate his agency, when he was a Governor of Texas and candidate for President. He is now using it, just like his predecessors, to enforce his personal biases.

    The Wall Street Journal for years has made your point about the “Department Of No Energy.”

  10. We agree that the government should encourage solar panel manufacturing within the nation’s borders.

    Nothing warms the heart of a leftist scribbler like the thought of the proletariat marching of each morning to work at The People’s Glorious Revolutionary Solar Panel Factory #21.

  11. “nother greeny fetish – electric cars”

    Why fetish?

    My hybrid is objectively better than the equivalent Diesel engined model I had previously. Quieter, smoother, cheaper to run, better acceleration.

    If they did a full electric version with decent range I’d get it tomorrow.

  12. I’m curious how a hybrid can be cheaper to run as it has added weight and complexity. I suspect that over the useful lifetime of the equivalent diesel it would work out more expensive, especially when the inevitable battery changes are factored in.

  13. My (plug-in) hybrid is cheaper to run than a diesel because of all the government subsidies I garner. 🙂

  14. Spike – Yarp. Most greenies have a bizzaro back-to-nature fetish. It was cute when Felicity Kendal did it, but wouldn’t be so quaint if we all had to live in freezing cold eco-yurts drinking organic free-range cat piss like the Green Party hopes.

    Darren – I don’t think electric cars will be feasible for the mass market in our lifetimes, even if the magic money tree produces enough subsidies to let everyone buy one. For one thing, the national grid can’t support it, and the government has no credible plans to build the significant excess capacity we’d need to power millions of electrical cars.

    Solar obviously isn’t the answer because the power it generates per square foot is so low, and windmills are only efficient at killing birds. We’d need yuge numbers of new atomic or hydrocarbon plants, and the expensive debacle that is Hinkley Point C – coupled with this nominally conservative government’s obeisance to Paris and the Climate Change Act – shows we’re not going to learn until 70’s style brownouts become a thing again.

    For another, a vehicle that takes on average 4 hours to “refuel” after every ~100 miles is never going to be practical for people who do serious driving.

    Barring some startling breakthrough in capacitors, batteries and a lot of new-build power plants – as well as the huge investment in charging stations we’d need to let hundreds of cars simultaneously power up at Charnock Richard and other busy service stations – it’s just not gonna happen.

  15. @SS2-SoTP… And they’d have to completely upgrade the 220V domestic electricity distribution system as well… The average supply isn’t anywhere near sufficient to run the house and recharge one or more electric cars.

  16. @SS2 – I agree, but only quibble that “startling breakthroughs” are a certainty, not just for capacitors and batteries but for new locations of crude oil, such as announced last week off Guyana. The breakthroughs will tend to solve our most intractable problems, as that is where research is focused. And they will startle, as nothing is doable until we find a way to do it.

  17. But a hybrid can hardly be called an electric car. It replaces the gearbox in the drive chain with an electrical generator/motor(s) & adds (in most cases) a battery pack to smooth generation & enable regenerative braking. It may be a more efficient way of utilising an ICE.
    It’s hard to see how a pure electric car can ever fully replace the ICE. It’s the recharge cycle. How do you put 70kWh into a battery in anything approaching the fuel stop time of an ICE? Even a 15 minute charge time (3 times ICE fuel) would require trebling the size of every gas station. Typically 8 pumps.
    Some maths: 24 recharging stations at a site x 70kWh/15mins = 6.7 mWh peak demand. Maybe a dozen or more recharging sites around a typical district. Over 80mWh.
    Yes, you can smooth the demand by at-home domestic recharging. But you still have to get that 80mWh into batteries & the existing domestic cabling (power station to house) isn’t capable of carrying it. At least with public charging stations you wouldn’t be digging up every street in the country

  18. Pogo – good point. So very rough back of a fag packet calculation, assuming 80% of the driving population switches to electric cars…

    20m electric cars at Nissan Leaf prices:
    £100 Billion cost to taxpayers in car subsidies alone
    £500 Billion cost to consumers (though this isn’t necessarily an extra cost)

    30% extra leccy generation capacity:
    About £100 Billion according to this guy’s (possibly optimistic) figures http://euanmearns.com/how-much-more-electricity-do-we-need-to-go-to-100-electric-vehicles/

    Grid upgrades, domestic wiring upgrades, charging stations, smart meters etc.:

    £££Fuck knows£££

    Meanwhile, the national debt is somewhere between £1Tn and £5Tn depending on how depressed you are.

    Doesn’t add up, does it? It’s almost as if they haven’t thought this through.

  19. And domestic solar as an electricity solution is purest bollocks. There simply isn’t the roof area intersecting sunlight to put a significant dent in electricity consumption.

  20. “Grid upgrades, domestic wiring upgrades, charging stations, smart meters etc.:”

    Changes to the law to allow households to drape electrical cables across the public highway to their car.

  21. Spike – sure. Hopefully there will be breakthroughs, we can’t take them for granted though. Finding new ways to economically extract oil we know is in the ground is a different proposition to inventing better batteries.

    Martin – Dogger bank artificial island?

    Eh. Am I supposed to be impressed they’ve invented a more expensive way to hoover up subsidies generate electricity?

    Whoop-de-doo. It’s impressive in the same way the Easter Island heads are. Clever engineering in the service of a potentially catastrophic misallocation of scarce resources to satisfy an imbecilic religious impulse.

    Porsche’s big-arsed capacitors magical superchargers. Do you know what they do to a battery’s lifespan, and how toxic and expensive electric car batteries are? Tesla knows: https://electrek.co/2017/05/07/tesla-limits-supercharging-speed-number-charges/

    The problem with this sort of innovation is that it’s based on bad incentives to solve problems which don’t exist outside some idiot politician’s fogged-up brain.

    There’s no good reason to subsidise solar power or electric cars. If these were great ideas, consumers and private investors would happily foot the bill with no need for government involvement.

  22. “the leftie opposition to nuclear has always seemed to be …”: it all used to be encouraged, indeed funded, by the USSR.

    But like a religion, even once the initial impulse has died the idiot ideology can hang on and on indefinitely.

  23. @ Bis
    Solar water heating panels have been economic for over thirty years – without subsidies. The new ones are even more so and the government subsidies make them a no-brainer if the local planning department don’t invent a spurious reason to stop one installing them.
    Solar PV panels have been cheaper than buying electricity for a decade in California, not in the UK (unless you get a Miliband subsidy).

  24. john77 – Moreover, with rooftop solar water heating, you don’t have to convert solar heat to electricity and back to heat. Nor do you have to heat water to bathwater levels; any rise in temperature saves work and cost from the conventional water heater.

    Separately, these days, the price of anything in California is not a true measure of anything.

  25. “If they did a full electric version with decent range I’d get it tomorrow.”

    If they built one of those flying Iron Man suits for under ten grand I’d get one of those. They look fun. And if my auntie had balls she’d be my M-to-F transitioning uncle.

  26. @ Spike
    Yes, certainly – I was just pointing out that solar panels do work *when used to do the right job*.
    In summer I have to add a lot of cold water to my bath – the 20-year-old roof panels heat it up to 60+ degrees centigrade.

  27. “My (plug-in) hybrid is cheaper to run than a diesel because of all the government subsidies I garner.”

    Until you trade it in, and the catastrophic depreciation murders all savings.

  28. @john77
    What do you think heats the water for the house I’m in?. But then we get around 280 days sunshine a year. My girlfriend was down on the beach & swimming today.
    But the total energy our 4m2 of solar collectors intercept isn’t much better than 1kW. Why we have electric water heating to cope with surge use.

  29. My home in the east bay California was kitted out with solar when I bought it and was just not worth the effort even in the ca sun,The solar hot water was efficient ( more storage needed to make it really work) but I’m happy to just pay my bills here.

  30. “My (plug-in) hybrid is cheaper to run than a diesel because of all the government subsidies I garner.”

    Until you trade it in, and the catastrophic depreciation murders all savings.

    That’s an issue for the leasing company, not for me.

  31. @ bis
    You missed “PV” out of your earlier post so I thought it referred to *all* domestic solar: hence my response. For a high/medium-high value of “significant” I agree with you on the impact of solar PV on electricity supply and I do use the (gas-fired) boiler in winter (and occasionally in summer)

  32. @SS2 – I agree, but only quibble that “startling breakthroughs” are a certainty, not just for capacitors and batteries…

    In a pig’s eye. Both are mature technologies. We may see some improvements around the fringes, with nanotube electrodes, etc, but breakthroughs just ain’t gonna happen.

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