Skip to content

Critics blame solar farms for high electricity bills as it emerges owners earn more money from taxpayer-funded handouts than selling energy

May 13, 2019

By Paul Homewood

 

 

Some of us have been reporting this for years!

The Mail has finally caught up:

 

image

Britain’s biggest solar farms get more money in taxpayer subsidies than they make from selling the electricity they produce.

The plants were encouraged to get off the ground with generous handouts, funded from ‘green taxes’ on fuel bills.

Now many of them make the majority of their cash from the subsidies.

Some farms have been snapped up by private firms, venture capitalists and pension funds which realise they are guaranteed money-spinners, in part because of the Government-backed handouts.

Britain's biggest solar farms get more money in taxpayer subsidies than they make from selling the electricity they produce

Britain’s biggest solar farms get more money in taxpayer subsidies than they make from selling the electricity they produce

But critics say the system, which often guarantees the handouts for 15 or 20 years, has been way too generous and skewed the energy market – leading to bigger household electricity bills.

Dr John Constable, director of charity Renewable Energy Foundation, which publishes data on the energy sector, said: ‘The legacy entitlements are costing consumers dearly and will continue to do so for many years to come.

‘In order to remain internationally competitive, the UK needs to scrape every barnacle off the hull of the economy – retrospective cuts to renewables subsidies cannot be ruled out.’

Ten of the UK’s biggest solar farms pocketed £3million or more each in eco subsidies in 2017/18, statistics from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reveal.

The total cost of providing subsidies to the renewables market is estimated at around £7billion – of which about £1billion filters through to solar energy.

Treasury officials ended new subsidies to solar farms in 2014 but existing farms are still guaranteed generous handouts until the end of their contracts.

 

Full story here.

48 Comments
  1. Broadlands permalink
    May 13, 2019 3:22 pm

    What is yet to emerge is the loss of land to these projects, arable agricultural land, land for biofuels, and land to plant the millions of trees some are encouraging. That’s when the proverbial” fan” will be hit…and it won’t be those competing wind turbine fans. The unintended consequences are beginning to arrive? Expensive.

  2. May 13, 2019 3:24 pm

    12:06pm Dr John Constable was on Talk Radio talking bout how solar subsidies hit the poor
    £8.6bn/year green energy subsidies currently
    inc £1.3bn for solar

    Subsidy costs will be £10bn/yr in the 2020s before they start to fall

    Audio : go to minute 6 of the 12pm to 12:30pm section
    John Constable basically is the Renewable Energy Foundation

    GWPF put something out by him a little earlier

    • Athelstan. permalink
      May 13, 2019 3:40 pm

      “Subsidy costs will be £10bn/yr in the 2020s before they start to fall”

      fall they blumin’ well will, more especially the offshore whirlgigs and they’re supposed to last 25 years – who are they kiddin’?

      I don’t foresee how ‘costs will fall’ either just maintaining and replacing these boondoggles is an unending cost and then who do you think is going to pay for the decommissioning of these totally useless eyesores…………….no prizes.

      • May 13, 2019 5:14 pm

        Some of those projects onthe most favourable terms started before 2011
        … so yes by 2030 they will be out of the 20 year subsidy contract

      • HotScot permalink
        May 13, 2019 6:05 pm

        I recall a study recently which found the life of offshore turbines isn’t 25 years as originally believed, but 12 – 15 years.

      • Jon Scott permalink
        May 13, 2019 6:34 pm

        The blades last 3-5 years because of erosion….. I suppose they can only beat so many birds into a bloody pulp! Interesting you may also wish to know is that the blades are made of all kinds of ….you guessed it petroleum derivatives and there is currently NO mechanism at all to recycle them….So next time you see Orestad crowing about how “gween” they are on Linkedin…. Odd don’t you think that so called green tech has been invented with no consideration for recycling…..call me a cynic but my take on all of this is you just opened the door to the worst kind of lifeforms (businessmen) who are the ones who see the opportunity to cashing in on all those lovely tax payer funded subsidies with few questions asked.

      • Athelstan. permalink
        May 13, 2019 11:36 pm

        “call me a cynic but my take on all of this is you just opened the door to the worst kind of lifeforms (businessmen) who are the ones who see the opportunity to cashing in on all those lovely tax payer funded subsidies with few questions asked”

        I think far from being a cynical statement that, the above quote is a very sober articulation of cold, hard fact.

        I remark upon it, very well said indeed.

  3. May 13, 2019 3:36 pm

    This is going on in Ontario Canada also. To make it worst solar energy producers here receive three times more income for hydro produced than they do in the USA.The solar farms are destroying farm land that use to produce good pasture. They are using 1946 land classifications . Some land has been improved with tile drainage and is now class one land but they are still putting solar panels on the sites.These solar farms will be obsolete with newer technology and their contracts will not be renewed when the 20 year cycle runs out.I don’t know how you recycle this stuff. And the land is ruined for agriculture. Solar farms can work in the desert in California but not in a northern climate. We don’t get enough sun in the winter here to pay the loans on these projects.
    In the summer they have to let the water power go from Niagara Falls and let the steam off from the nuclear generator to pay for wind and solar power which is ten times more expensive.
    The green energy people companies are all about making money at tax payers expense.

    • Broadlands permalink
      May 13, 2019 5:01 pm

      Georgeadavidson: You have made a very good point. What DOES one do with an old, obsolete, unrepairable pile of solar panels? Those already in that category are leaking toxic material. And we already have a problem with old autos. Is this another of those unintended consequences brought on because of scary futures predicted by faulty climate models?

      • Jon Scott permalink
        May 13, 2019 6:37 pm

        But they leak wonderful things…they were made by magic energy and magic materials….how dare you use the word toxic. I will skweem and skweem and skweem until I am thick unless you stop saying bad thingth about wonderful gween magic energy! 🙂

  4. May 13, 2019 4:05 pm

    Of course it’s not Government subsidy or even taxpayers’ subsidy. No, it’s electricity consumers’ subsidy, and it is regressive, i.e. it hits the poorest hardest. It is an immoral.scam.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      May 14, 2019 8:00 am

      Its not regressive. The poor pay exactly the same amount for the thing they use as the rich exactly as they did for gas and coal generated electricity before all this nonsense, and as they do for milk and cars and haircuts.

      As with everything that we all use, an increase in prices hurts the poor most because they are poor, i.e. they have low incomes. What is truly criminal is that a few people are getting very rich from this, a coercion of us all including the poor, yet the Left continues to support it.

  5. PeterGB permalink
    May 13, 2019 5:01 pm

    “Critics blame solar farms for high electricity bills”
    Well, colour me surprised!
    At last, something in the MSM about the hidden costs of greenery.It doesn’t fit the BBC’s agenda, of course, but the Daily Mail is a start. Christopher Booker tried his best, but ill health has stopped his input. Let’s hope there are a few other journalists to jump on this bandwagon (it’s what they’re good at), but don’t bother looking in the Grauniad.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 13, 2019 5:30 pm

      The article is rather out of character for the Mail franchise these days, but then the last word is given to the solar industry shills – ridiculous to cut, public want it etc. which rather negates the negative effect of everything above!

      The joke was that this article was the flip page of an article slamming Farage for saying action to fight climate change was stupid, among other trashing.

  6. Bill Lancaster permalink
    May 13, 2019 5:05 pm

    “…. than they make from selling the electricity they produce.”.
    Presumably the price of the electricity they sell is also boosted with taxpayer money

  7. May 13, 2019 5:18 pm

    Everytime you hit the switch to connect a new giant wind/solarfarm dozens of nurses get fired
    .. That is cos the subsidy cost that pushes up the price of electricity filters thru into everything the NHS pays for.

    There are no magic unicorns to pay for these subsidies and extra costs of GreenDreaming

  8. Jon Scott permalink
    May 13, 2019 5:24 pm

    Even Blind Freddie could see there is a problem with the physics of electricity generation in the UK using photo voltaic cells. It is an insult to intelligence. I have seen a solar farm in Lancashire and also another in County Durham. The ONLY reason they exist is because of subsidies. The next question we must ask is how were the subsidies arrived at and what kind of intelligence was involved in defining them.The rash of wind farms and solar farms which suddenly appeared made me very suspicious of WHY? Now it is clear. Questions in parliament please and resignations for gross incompetence and wilful abuse of the public purse!

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      May 13, 2019 11:43 pm

      And why does Wymeswold receive 12% more subsidy than the others?

      • Adam GALLON permalink
        May 15, 2019 9:26 am

        Somebody was better at negotiation!

  9. May 13, 2019 5:25 pm

    One of the windmills in Pontypool Ontario Canada has already failed. A blade exploded and the other one is now banging and clanging against the upright, driving people crazy. The company behind the construction is in bankruptcy court in Germany, not sure how it is going to get fixed. This company receives 10 times the going rate for electricity in our market and they don’t pay any income tax in Canada.How is all this stuff going to be recycled once they fail.The tower that failed is only three years old

    • Athelstan. permalink
      May 13, 2019 11:40 pm

      As soon as anyone quietly mentions “decomissioning” all wind farm firms will immediately file for bankruptcy and next……….

      can ya guess who pays?

  10. Carbon500 permalink
    May 13, 2019 5:36 pm

    The Mail on Sunday (May12th) has issued an invitation on page two.
    Readers are asked to send details of a scandal that the newspaper should investigate.
    Contact: news@mailonsunday.co.uk and include a contact telephone number. If you wish, write to The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT
    There shouldn’t be a lack of climate scandals to suggest, and yes, I’ve sent my idea in.
    Go for it, bloggers!

  11. May 13, 2019 6:39 pm

    The Green Blob knows that solar is a stealth bunker-buster for the concept of baseload. It is only a matter of time before solar forces baseload power stations to reduce output on sunny days, likely destroying their economic viability.

    This really is a war against the people.

  12. May 13, 2019 7:01 pm

    retrospective cuts to renewables subsidies cannot be ruled out

    That would be breach of contract on the face of it, i.e. unlawful, so lawsuits would start appearing pretty quickly.

    • May 13, 2019 10:05 pm

      But how about a “windfall tax”? would that be allowable if a future Govt was voted in that could suggest such legislation, and it was approved by Parliament.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        May 14, 2019 8:05 am

        A government can legislate for anything – that is where the legislation the courts use comes from. So a government could legislate to reduce subsidies and void contracts. But try getting new investment in any industry when you do something like that. And that includes borrowing.

    • J Martin permalink
      May 13, 2019 10:13 pm

      One political administration of parliament cannot bind a subsequent parliament. So if parliament were to legislate that retrospetiive cuts could be made, then cuts there will be.

  13. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 13, 2019 7:45 pm

    Years ago, the government of the day legislated so that petrol stations had to have big signs outside their forecourts which could inform to the approaching motorist of the price they would be paying for fuel per litre if they filled up there.

    I thought, what a good idea! So much so, I thought, why not have the same facility on the approach roads to solar farms?? The displays could tell the passing public the current level of power being generated – relative to the name-plate total and then, show how much each kWhr generated it costing (maybe compared to the general p/kWhr).

    I drive past a very large solar farm most days of the week on the Fosse Way and every time I pass I want to see such a sign (especially when it’s overcast etc – and at night! – so much so that I wrote to Claire Perry and suggested she adopt the idea. Silly, silly man! She told me she was not able to comment on the idea. Of course not. Mustn’t give the little man in the street any ideas about how he’s being ripped off. And what he’s paying for.

    But I still think it a good one. 🙂

    • PeterGB permalink
      May 13, 2019 10:10 pm

      Brilliant idea. They could put the sign next to the blue EU one which tells us that they spent our own money (after taking their 60% cut) on it without our having any say in the matter.

    • mikewaite permalink
      May 13, 2019 10:17 pm

      “Mustn’t give the little man in the street any ideas about how he’s being ripped off. And what he’s paying for.” .
      No indeed , and a particularly relevant comment in a week when Claire Perry is named as one of the MPs bending the expenses rules into shapes never dreamt of by the auditors ;

      https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/politics/news/103808/mps-accused-claiming-expenses-%E2%80%98dependent%E2%80%99-adult-children

      _”New rules introduced in 2017 allow MPs to claim up to £5,400 in additional second home expenses in a move that was intended to help young families rent bigger homes.
      However, according to The Daily Telegraph, some MPs have been claiming expenses for adult children in their 20s.
      Energy Minister Claire Perry claimed an additional £9,846 on top of her £22,760 standard allowance for her three children who are aged 17, 19 and 22, the paper said.
      Ms Perry, who earns £111,148 a year, insisted that her claims were made in accordance with the rules set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).
      She said: “All claims are made completely in accordance with the Ipsa rules.” “-

  14. In the Real World permalink
    May 13, 2019 7:47 pm

    It is almost impossible to get the truth out of the MSM on anything about the Global warming / Climate Change scam , but a report here
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2018/04/07/cost-of-green-subsidies-rises-to-11-3bn/
    a year ago said that the unreliables subsidy was already over £11.3 billion .
    Which means that ,[ on average ], every consumer is paying over £500 P A on top of the Electricity costs .

    • May 13, 2019 10:57 pm

      “every consumer is paying over £500 P A on top of the Electricity costs .”
      i think you are a bit out
      The costs are added to electricity bills for everything
      So corps/charities/gov depts pay extra aswell not just consumers
      ..but of course at the end of the day the public does pay cost it ups the cost of everything we pay for
      so that £11.3bn is bourne by 27.2 million households =£415 per household
      but there are other costs renewables add to a networks ,: the inefficiency and extra-infrastructure costs like special long connections to help windfarms.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        May 14, 2019 6:46 pm

        Of course the corps/charities/gov depts add value so when the public eventually pick up that particular tab it is considerably more than the original charge

  15. May 13, 2019 8:27 pm

    Solar energy companies consume more energy in their operations than they can ever produce with their inefficient, land-hogging, and toxic-chemical-laden panels. That’s why they will always lose money in the free market, even if the cost of fossil fuels increases. They can only make money by feeding at the government trough.

  16. May 13, 2019 9:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  17. Patrick healy permalink
    May 13, 2019 10:27 pm

    Paul, please excuse my intrusion, but, tonight I had the pleasure of watching (on Sky),a football match where Tranmere Rovers beat a team called Forrest Green and thus qualify to meet Newport County (which I have a soft spot for) at Wembley to gain promotion to the 1st Division.
    What may you ask has this got to do with Global Warming.
    Well it so happens that Forrest Green are the brain (??) child of a bloke called Dale Vance – or is it Vance Dale or some such.
    In any case he is an ex hippie useless so and so, who has made a fortune from us stupid taxpayers by building windmills and owns an outfit called Ecotricity.
    He boasts that Forrest Green is the greenest vegetarian football club in the world and FIFA have said so.
    He spends a fortune in the Stroud ‘Glostershire’ area schools promoting the global warming religion.
    A visit to the club’s website will bring water to a realists eyes.

  18. May 13, 2019 11:40 pm

    We are all talking to ourselves. Can you people in the UK not get these comments into the world news? Any one in Canada that says anything gets down played as a climate change denier and a fool. All this green energy started in Europe and the people in Europe need to speak out against the costs of green energy .

  19. Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
    May 14, 2019 9:32 am

    Congratulations Mr Homewood on 9 million page hits.
    You are a legend!
    You deserve a knighthood!

  20. May 14, 2019 10:51 am

    The total ‘Government Subsidy’ tots up to £34.90 billion, which to 27.2 million households is a mere £1.283/year – not worth thinking about most renewable advocates would suggest.

    But what does each household get for its £1.283?

    The average Wholesale Rate for 2018 was £57.32/MWh. The ‘Electricity Value’ tots up to £21.51 billion, so that’s 608,863 MWh of electricity supplied – 22.385 kWh per household.

    Each household pays £0.573/kWh in government subsidies, for this yearly dribble of solar pv. The average retail price for 2018 was £147.6/MWh – £0.1476/kWh.

    So we pay 4X more per kWh in ‘Government Subsidy’ for solar pv, than we do for ‘normal’ electricity.

    If it weren’t for the tears, I’d be able to laugh at the gaggle of Governmental clowns who come up with schemes like this.

  21. Dave Ward permalink
    May 14, 2019 11:20 am

    Talking of the Daily Mail, Richard Littlejohn (about the only remaining member of their staff who doesn’t seem to have been “Nobbled”) has a dig at the Greens today:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-7025613/RICHARD-LITTLEJOHN-Green-vandals-handed-jail-free-card-courts.html

  22. Rudolph Hucker permalink
    May 14, 2019 9:03 pm

    Other methods of producing some of the most expensive electricity in the World are also available! Contact your Local Government representative

  23. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 15, 2019 10:43 am

    As I write, WIND is producing 0.89gigawatts or 2.58% of a very low demand for electricity. Recently the BBC and the Guardian (same thing)had an orgasm about ‘no coal for a week, first since godknowswhen’ Looking forward to their piece about ‘no wind since last Thursday midday when it touched 5GW and was practically zero ever since’. All those windmills, all those pylons, all those dead raptors, all that wire and transformers, all that concrete, all that money. Oh dear.

  24. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 15, 2019 7:30 pm

    I saw on the thread about coal free power that Ben Vorlich questioned whether the kettle regulations had anything to do with TV pickup.

    The answer is not really: other demands are more important, including water pumping caused by toilet flushing, and fridges operating because their doors were opened. There is quite a bit of information here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TV_pickup

    My kettle will boil a mug of water in under a minute. Halving the power would mean that would take close to two minutes, and so it would overlap with more other people also boiling a mug of water also taking two minutes instead of one. So long as there is some element of slight randomness that lasts a minute or two between switch on times (e.g. do you dash to the toilet while I switch on my kettle first) there will be no difference in overall grid demand by halving the power of kettles, since twice as many will need to be still on. You can run simple spreadsheet simulations that show that as soon as the kettle population rises beyond a few hundred, there is no practical difference, even when boiling a full three pints for a large teapot. However, if power is reduced there becomes a strong incentive to switch on the kettle before you do anything else at a half time break in a big football match, and the use becomes more synchronised. In any event, audience sizes for TV broadcasts are much smaller than they used to be, so the problem is reduced. Randomness is more than adequate to mean that grid peak use during a winter evening rush hour is not helped in the slightest by cutting kettle power.

    Much bigger problems occur because of solar, or the sudden loss of an interconnector. The total solar eclipse holds the UK record for power ramping demand at 3GW, while in Germany they suffered the dual problem of solar PV output collapsing to nothing and returning to full power as the eclipse passed over. Indeed, a cloud front can have a similar effect if on a slightly less dramatic scale.

  25. jelorenzo permalink
    May 16, 2019 8:37 am

    News from Spain. In 2019 (before taxes) it is expected that earnings in photovoltaic production add up to 0.478 billions €, subsidies 2.51 billions €; Thermal solar earnings 0.277 billions €, subsidies 1.3 billions €; Wind energy earnings 2.58 billions €, subsidies 1.51 billions €. All renewables (except conventional hydro) are subsidized in Spain, the total amount of subsidies per year is more than 7.5 billions €. Fossil fuels, nuclear and conventional hydro special taxes amount to 1 billion €. No wonder that every single electricity production company wants to get rid of their thermal power plants and build solar parks… With subsidies they are going to earn x6 of the production. The present government has scheduled to up scale the installed photovoltaic power from 4.8 GW to 36.9 GW by 2030 and the wind power from 23 GW to 50.2 GW. My hope is that forthcoming subsidies will not follow the present trend, or that the whole plan gets canceled. Difficult times ahead…

  26. Gamecock permalink
    May 17, 2019 4:20 pm

    ‘owners earn more money from taxpayer-funded handouts than selling energy’

    A feature. Not a flaw.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: