- in 2014 from 2,782MW to 5,230MW an increase of +96% equivalent to ~£8,800,000,000
- in 2015 from 5,379MW to 8,917MW a further increase of +66%. equivalent to ~£10,500,000,000
The Cost Of Solar Power – Ed Davey’s Vanity Project
By Paul Homewood
Ed Hoskins has one of his excellent and detailed posts on renewable energy:
Comparative effectiveness of weather dependent Renewable Energy in the UK
The late Professor David Mackay in his final interview with Mark Lynas in April 2016 stated that powering the UK wholly with Renewable Energy is an “Appalling Delusion”.
In 2014 and 2015 the UK installed record amounts of Solar Energy. As a result, from being the sixth largest Solar PV installation in Europe, by 2015 the UK had increased its commitment to being the third largest in Europe after Germany and Italy.
According to David Mackay, this substantial commitment to Solar energy was made in spite of the clear professional advice, from the civil servants at the UK Department of Energy and Climate change that Solar Energy should never have been considered as useful and viable in the context of the UK environment, (unfavourable timing, latitude and weather).
The capacity factor for Solar energy in the UK is only less than 9%. This is the least performant solar power in Europe.
By 2015 the UK solar installation amounted to a total of about 9.6GW nameplate capacity yielding the equivalent of about 0.86GW of power, but only when the sun shines.
Using US EIA data of overnight capital costs for comparison, the total capital value of solar installations has now amounted to about £28,000,000,000 and just recently in 2014 and 2015 the UK committed an additional ~£19,000,000,000 to Solar energy installations, according to the green oriented EurobserER recorded data.
These were by far the most rapid growth rates for Solar installation throughout Europe.
Using the same US EIA comparative figures, this £28,000,000,000 capital investment could have provided:
- ~40.0 Gigawatts of gas-fired installations at 87% capacity: nearly sufficient to meet the UK’s highest demand.
- ~6.5 Gigawatts of Nuclear generation at 90% capacity
The full amount of ~£28,000,000,000 cumulative capital expenditure on Solar energy is never stated explicitly because the full sum is well disguised. The sum is subsumed in subsidies, overcharged electricity bills, feed-in tariffs, Renewables obligations and other government mandated CO2 reduction support mechanisms.
Whilst the proposed costs of Hinckley Point C, (at ~£18billion), are much discussed and now even questioned by government as to their viability, the much greater sum expended to contribute less than 1 Gigawatt of power, if the sun shines, on UK Solar installations has simply been ignored.
So this very significant sum has knowingly been allowed to be wasted by central government, (then DECC), at the expense of the UK taxpayer and the UK electricity purchaser.
The outcome of the following analyses fully justifies David Mackay’s assertions of “appalling delusion” and non viability of weather dependent Renewables with comparative cost effectiveness calculations.
- solar power in the UK is about 41 times less cost effective than gas-fired power.
- wind power overall is about 11 times less effective than gas-fired power.
- coal firing is about 3 times less cost effective than gas-fired power.
This is just the summary, the full post is here.
What I find particularly significant is the statement from Prof David Mackay that, this substantial commitment to solar energy was made in spite of the clear professional advice, from the civil servants at the UK Department of Energy and Climate change that Solar Energy should never have been considered as useful and viable in the context of the UK environment, (unfavourable timing, latitude and weather).
A video of Mackay’s interview with the Guardian can be seen here.
Whether we have really spent £28 billion on solar cannot be known. But we do know that the Committee on Climate Change have estimated the annual Renewable Obligation subsidy for solar at £307 million.
In addition to this are Feed in Tariffs, for smaller installations, which cost a further £991 million a year. Not all of this is for solar, as wind is also included. However, the CCC have told me:
If we assume that solar accounts for 80% of FITs, we arrive at an annual subsidy of £1.1 billion.
The CCC assume both ROs and FITs will run for 20 years, so we get a total subsidy of £22 billion, all to be paid for by consumers.
It has been pointed out before that some of the biggest beneficiaries of solar subsidies are people with big houses, and therefore plenty of roof space. Passing on these costs to electricity bill payers is a very regressive form of taxation.
The fact that ministers at DECC pursued such a policy against the clear professional advice of their civil servants, and on the basis of green ideology, is not only a disgrace, but an abuse of their authority.
A couple of charts drive home Ed’s message:
First, DECC data shows the rapid rise in solar capacity in 2014 and 2015.
Secondly, BP figures show just how irrelevant solar power is to the UK’s overall energy consumption.