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EDP’s Puff Piece For Solar

July 7, 2016
tags:

By Paul Homewood

 

h/t Dave Ward

 

image

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/tech/norfolk_now_has_one_million_solar_panels_enough_to_power_one_fifth_of_all_our_homes_1_4581786 

 

 

Do you sometimes get the impression that renewable energy gets a free ride from most of our media these days? The EDP is certainly no exception; take a look at their latest puff:

 

Norfolk is home to over one million solar panels, with the potential to produce 265MW of renewable energy. At full capacity that’s enough to power over 80,000 homes – a fifth of all households in the county.

Our interactive map shows where the main solar farms are, with west Norfolk and the north coast being particularly favourable locations. 

Nick Woods, of the Solar Trade Association, said that the county as a whole is one of the best places in the UK for solar farms.

“The radiance in Norfolk for solar farms is very good and one of the best in the country along with Cornwall and the south east,” he said. “It is all do to do with the radiance and not the amount of sunlight which makes Norfolk ideal along with the large amount of untouched space.”

One company, Lightsource Renewable Energy, has installed over 175,000 solar panels at six farms in the county over the past three years. The company has farms in King’s Lynn, Thetford, Ryston and Yelverton.

CEO of Lightsource, Nick Boyle, said their investment in the county was due to Norfolk having a vibrant energy sector.

“With plenty of sunshine throughout most of the year, Norfolk and the East of England have an important role to play in the future of the UK’s solar industry,” he said. “Norfolk is home to a vibrant energy sector and we are proud to support it, offering major energy users in the area the opportunity to source a portion of their electricity from our solar farms via a private wire connection, reducing strain on the National Grid and boosting their corporate social responsibilty credentials.”

The solar industry has expanded drastically over the past five years with the cost of solar dropping by 70pc. Last year the government announced that they would be cutting subsidies for the solar panels, claiming that solar should largely be able to support themselves. But Mr Wood said that self-sufficiency is still years from reality.

“Due to the government scrapping subsidies we may see a slowdown in the next two to three years in farms being built,” he said. “As an industry we are a few years away from independency without the subsidies and will no longer be able to develop at the rate we have been.”

But more solar farms continue to be built in the county. When the Scottow Enterprise Park on the former RAF Coltishall site is completed later this year, it become one of the biggest solar farms in the country.

Almost 200,000 solar panels have been installed next to the runways with a total capacity of 50MW of energy.

When it is completely hooked up to the hangers on enterprise park, it is expected to generate more than £10m for Norfolk County Council over the next 25 years.

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/tech/norfolk_now_has_one_million_solar_panels_enough_to_power_one_fifth_of_all_our_homes_1_4581786

 

Significantly there is no comment section, which is unusual for them. But there is a poll, which gets a favourable result by asking skewed questions:

 

image

 

So, let’s have a look at some of the claims, and see what critical questions the EDP might have posed:

 

 

1) Norfolk is home to over one million solar panels, with the potential to produce 265MW of renewable energy. At full capacity that’s enough to power over 80,000 homes – a fifth of all households in the county.

As usual with renewable propagandists, they talk of capacity, and not output.

According to DECC, solar only produces at about 11% of its capacity on average. Worse still, in winter, when power is at a premium, it only runs at 4%, and of course nothing at all at peak times in early mornings and evenings.

The other trick is to talk about “the number of homes”, ignoring the fact that domestic consumption accounts for less than a third of national consumption.

When all users are factored in, the reality is that solar would provide less than 5% of Norfolk’s electricity needs.

 

2) It is expected to generate more than £10m for Norfolk County Council over the next 25 years

The solar farm is not being operated by the Council, but by a company called Scottow Moor Solar Ltd, who will actually be paid for the power produced.

Norfolk County Council are understood to have paid £4 million to the MOD for RAF Coltishall. The income of £10 million over 25 years represents £400,000 pa, presumably for lease payments.

While this is a reasonable return, it is presumably not inconceivable that they could have made at least as much from leasing the site for other purposes, or selling for property development.

Indeed, thinking aloud, one wonders whether the Council undertook a full and proper business case analysis, to ensure that they were maximising returns for tax payers. Is this an issue the EDP have investigated in the past?

 

3) The issue of costs.

Reference is made to “Last year the government announced that they would be cutting subsidies for the solar panels, claiming that solar should largely be able to support themselves. But Mr Wood said that self-sufficiency is still years from reality.”

But the EDP has been pathetically inadequate in questioning this issue further.

Most existing solar farms in Norfolk are, and will continue to be, in receipt of subsidy payments via Renewable Obligation Certificates, currently worth in the region of £40/MWh. This effectively doubles the amount they would receive from the market.

Future developments, including Phase 2 of Scottow, currently under construction, will be paid under Contracts for Difference. These guarantee an index linked price for 15 years, and the latest auction last year is paying out £83/MWh to solar farms, more than double market price.

If those 80,000 homes, “fully powered by solar”, had to pay for this solar power themselves, they would find their electricity bills rising by about 40%!

 

4) Intermittency

There is, of course, no mention at all from the EDP that solar power is extremely intermittent. Perhaps they should ask where the back up power will come from in winter, or when it is dark.

They might then like to tell us how much extra this will cost bill payers as well.

 

It is easy to see why the majority of the EDP readers think renewable energy is so wonderful. If they were given all the facts, they might have a different view.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2016 7:25 pm

    I wonder if EDP is just a propaganda sheet for certain local political people ?
    and I wonder if there is a direct money trail from those people direct to solar projects and subsidy cash ?

  2. John F. Hultquist permalink
    July 7, 2016 7:49 pm

    Jessica Long is likely a very nice person.
    Math, physics, and power generation are difficult subjects.
    Likely, too, is that she knows nothing about any of them.

    Maybe someone could explain some of these things to her, or suggest she write about babies and grandmothers.

    • July 8, 2016 12:06 pm

      The only explanation someone like Jessica would understand is if her home, her office and her car all ran only solar ONLY—no powerline, no storage. As long as the lights come on, the frig keeps the beer cold and the car starts and runs, she will likely never comprehend reality. That’s what makes all of this an easy sell—electricity is magic. Eveyone knows that. Unless you find a way to destroy the magic, you cannot win the argument. The person will believe until shown physically how wrong they are. Some may not believe even then.

  3. Gamecock permalink
    July 7, 2016 8:39 pm

    ‘with the potential to produce 265MW of renewable energy’

    Ahh, yes, ‘renewable energy.’ That special type that’s very expensive to produce and not there when you need it. But a necessary sacrament to the climate god.

  4. tom0mason permalink
    July 7, 2016 9:08 pm

    I wonder how they’ve calculated the environmental impact, and long term maintenance requirement of this huge hazard. I wonder how the local plants and animals reacts to to this man-made hazard.
    Thankfully it’s free energy apart from the land use, maintenance and cleaning, and of course the the never ending subsidy.

    It’s also a site with the potential to produce thousands of jobs, if there’s hail!

  5. roger permalink
    July 7, 2016 10:07 pm

    It’s also a site with the potential to produce thousands of jobs, if there’s hail!

    How many Poles to the acre? 😄

    • July 8, 2016 9:35 am

      They’ll need lots of people with buckets and mops.

    • tom0mason permalink
      July 8, 2016 3:00 pm

      If poles don’t mind cleaning-up hazardous industrial material, probably a few hundred on clean-up, few more to reinstall/repair, plus all the actuaries to reassess the insurance premium.
      The whole rebuild would have to be overseen by few hundred supervisors, managers, bureaucrats, and committees, to keep the small army of managerial/local and national government/safety/ and public liaison officials, bureaucrats, underlings, and hangers-on fully appraised of the situation and the progress with and endless stream of reports conveyed over the new purpose built IT system.
      (A la Humphry Appleby?🙂 )

      But that’s all OK it doesn’t cost anything! Well not for the company owning/running the solar plant ….
      ………………………….as the customer will foot the bill.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 8, 2016 6:56 pm

      A rod, pole or perch is a unit of distance, equal to 5 1/2 yards, or 1/4 of a chain. An acre (a chain by a furlong) is thus 160 square poles.

  6. THX1138 permalink
    July 8, 2016 12:18 am

    I think that it’s entirely appropriate that the photo at the top shows the installation fully 1/3 under cloud cover, those sections thus producing extremely reduced or no power whatsoever. Pardon me, I’m just amused by such things. I unfortunately once worked for a wind power company in Calipornia, and I became aware of the “capacity” vs. actual production fraud back then. I left the company.

  7. July 8, 2016 7:30 am

    OK I just asked Google how many homes in the UK, it says 26 Million, how is 80,000, 1/5th of 26 million?

    RS

    • tom0mason permalink
      July 8, 2016 7:56 am

      Not the calculation method as used to find the household tax required to finance the BBC then (£3Billion/26 million= Approximate ‘License’ Fee).

    • richard walker permalink
      July 8, 2016 10:09 am

      It says a fifth of home in the County, not the county Rockyspears

  8. July 8, 2016 7:33 am

    How much is it likely to cost to remove and dispose of those panels in 20 – 25 years? Who pays? Will scottow have enough cash? Have they lodged a bond? What if scottow goes bust?
    What will the enviromental impact of decommissioning be? What about the co2 emissions involved?
    Were these factors in the EIA? Can NCC reassure us they were?

    This article
    http://euanmearns.com/the-energy-return-of-solar-pv/
    looks at a report from Ferruccio Ferroni and Robert J. Hopkirk.
    It concludes that more energy is used to make the PV panels than will ever be recovered from them during their 25 year lifetime. So, What’s the point of pv? Can EDP or scottow or NCC explain?

    • July 8, 2016 12:10 pm

      That’s my question, too. How much energy is used to produce, maintain and dispose of these units versus how much is produced? It’s all very vague. I have found solar proponents often speak of the costs of fossil fuels, all the way to health problems from production, but rarely if ever are these discussed with “renewables”.

  9. July 8, 2016 9:34 am

    No matter how many times you tell them, they still don’t know the difference between power and energy.

    And there’s nothing “green” about covering grass with glass.

  10. Bitter& Twisted permalink
    July 8, 2016 2:09 pm

    “With the potential to produce 265MW of renewable energy”
    And just how often is this potential realised?
    And when it is it usable?

    Nick Woods, of the Solar Trade Association, said that “the county as a whole is one of the best places in the UK for solar farms”
    Whilst omitting to say that even in sunny Spain, solar is not economic.

  11. July 8, 2016 4:26 pm

    Professor David Mackay said of solar:
    Prof Mackay said civil servants in DECC had assessed solar and found the numbers did not add up for the UK: “The only reason solar got on the table was democracy. The MPs wanted to have a solar feed-in-tariff. So in spite of the civil servants advising ministers, ‘no, we shouldn’t subsidise solar’, we ended up having this policy. There was very successful lobbying by the solar lobbyists as well. So now there’s this widespread belief that solar is a wonderful thing, even though … Britain is one of the darkest countries in the world.”
    “Then if you ask what is the optimal amount of wind and solar to add in then the answer is going to be almost zero,”

    see: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/03/idea-of-renewables-powering-uk-is-an-appalling-delusion-david-mackay

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