George Monbiot is sensible.
The people who sell solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and micro wind turbines in the UK insist they represent a good investment. The arguments I have had with them have been long and bitter. But the debate has now been brought to an end with the publication of the government\’s table of tariffs: the rewards people will receive for installing different kinds of generators. The government wants everyone to get the same rate of return. So while the electricity you might generate from large wind turbines and hydro plants will earn you 4.5p per kilowatt hour, mini wind turbines get 34p, and solar panels 41p. In other words, the government acknowledges that micro wind and solar PV in the UK are between seven and nine times less cost-effective than the alternatives.
He\’s against this nonsense of course. (Did I really just say \”of course\”?).
The thing that makes this a red letter day is that he\’s actually agreeing with us dastardly neo-liberals over at the ASI:
Aaaargh! No! Our aim is not to subsidise all and every attempt to generate electricity locally. It\’s to find out which is the best method of generating electricity locally! Thus whatever the subsidy is it should be uniform. So that those who generate at the lowest cost get the highest profit, leading to more installation of this lowest cost method.
For example, if medium scale hydro requires 4.5 p (per whatever unit) of subsidy and solar PV requires 41 p to make a 5-8% return then we absolutely do not want to be doling out 41 p to all those with solar cells. We want people to go build medium scale hydro instead. Perhaps the subsidy should be 4.5 p so that only hydro gets built, or 41p so that those building hydro make huge profits and thus resources flood into the most efficient method of doing this.
But to say to the solar PV folks, yes, we know your technology is wildly useless but here have lots of money anyway, so that resources are ploughed into this wildly useless technology, is simply nonsense.
Something of a turn up for the books really…..