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£36 Billion For Solar Panels (That Don’t Work In Winter!)

March 30, 2022

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness

 image

England faces being carpeted with solar panels covering an area close to the size of Exmoor under plans being considered as part of Boris Johnson’s green energy drive.

The Prime Minister is preparing to meet with chief executives from the renewable energy industry on Thursday to encourage them to boost production as Europe fights to wean itself off Russian oil and gas.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, is understood to be pushing to more than triple the UK’s solar power capacity by 2030 as part of this proposal – adding an additional 36 gigawatts of energy, equivalent to solar panels taking up around 225 square miles of space. Exmoor National Park covers 267 square miles.

The proposals –which are likely to focus heavily on the South of England, where solar radiation is higher – risk sparking a wave of public resistance and are already concerning Tory MPs.

Matt Hancock, the Conservative MP for West Suffolk and former health secretary, who also served as an energy minister in 2014-2015, said: “I am in favour of solar and have supported numerous projects, but it has to be in the right place.

“You lose the community’s support for solar if you try and squeeze it around villages rather than putting it on rooftops or further afield.” 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/03/29/england-faces-  

 

Net Zero Watch have already responded:

 

Net Zero Watch has warned Boris Johnson that the proposal by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to hugely expand the UK’s renewables fleet would precipitate the energy cost crisis and ruin lives.

While the government is struggling to agree a new energy security strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng is reported to be proposing a tenfold expansion of solar power, a fivefold increase in offshore wind, and a threefold increase in onshore wind, as well as a small increase in the nuclear fleet.

Net Zero Watch’s deputy director, Andrew Montford said:

The capital cost alone would run to £10,000 per household. This is an insane proposal at a time when households are already struggling with a doubling of the cost of their energy bills.”

And Dr John Constable, Net Zero Watch’s director of energy said:

On top of the capital cost, Mr Kwarteng’s plan would cost billions of pounds of operating costs, and billions more to keep the grid functioning. This is not the kind of proposal a serious politician would put forward”.

image

https://www.netzerowatch.com/boris-johnson-warned-renewables-drive-would-precipitate-cost-crisis-and-ruin-lives/

We all know about the enormous problems surrounding the intermittency of wind power, but what about solar?

Leaving aside the obvious problem that you need battery storage for use at night (who will pay for that, Mr Kwarteng?), nobody seems to have worked out that we get virtually no electricity from solar farms in winter, when demand is greatest.

In December 2021, for instance, solar output was a paltry 185 GWh. This equates to just 248 MW. Total solar capacity was 13500 MW, which means solar was working at just 1.8% of capacity:

 

 image

https://www.solar.sheffield.ac.uk/pvlive/#

 

Kwarteng’s 36 GW of new capacity will be add just 0.6 GW in the middle of winter. The simple reality is that we will still need to back all of this up with proper power stations.

And we’re going to spend £36 billion on this nonsense?

51 Comments
  1. Philip Mulholland permalink
    March 30, 2022 11:56 am

    But the planet’s dying. Our wish fulfillment policies will save you.

  2. March 30, 2022 12:02 pm

    The man’s a fool.

    • Curious George permalink
      March 30, 2022 3:55 pm

      Ten times zero is zero. So is five times zero. For detail oriented readers, we are talking not about an absolute zero, but 0.03, close enough for most purposes.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      March 31, 2022 10:11 am

      I think that’s being very polite to Kwasi Modo.

  3. March 30, 2022 12:03 pm

    Dear Matt Handcockup, the “right place” is the Sahara desert, but I don’t think your mains extension cable is quite long enough.

    • Sean permalink
      March 30, 2022 1:20 pm

      They can just piggyback on the work being done on extension cables for electric planes.

    • Mack permalink
      March 30, 2022 3:40 pm

      Actually, counterintuitively, the Sahara is a pretty rubbish location for a solar farm unless a mainline drip is set up to the nearest giant subsidy trough. All that dust and sand doesn’t do the panels much good, nor do huge changes in day and night time temperatures, construction and maintenance on shifting sands is a nightmare, transmission losses from farm to grid are massive and, to cap it all, such installations raise the local temperatures with their considerable heat island effects. Apart from that, they’re a great idea for spivs, charlatans and politicos everywhere who spend their lives sucking off the public teat.

      • March 30, 2022 5:36 pm

        Agreed. It was an illustrative point for illiterate politicians.

      • Mack permalink
        March 30, 2022 7:12 pm

        ilma, wasn’t having a pop at you, as your logic, as far as the train of thought of the numpties currently in charge of our energy policy is concerned, is completely sound. Unfortunately, their’s isn’t! And there lies the problem for us all as there is not a single popular or currently electable political party in the UK who is not fully committed to the Year Zero nonsense.

      • jimlemaistre permalink
        March 30, 2022 7:30 pm

        Quite right Mack . . . here in Canada as well . . . This is The Media dragging ALL the political parties around by the nose ! There are none so blind . . . What causes that . . . The Irony of our Education systems . . .

        https://www.academia.edu/73566289/The_Irony_of_The_Written_Word

      • Dave Andrews permalink
        March 31, 2022 4:44 pm

        You forgot about the tempting target for terrorist attacks that the panels and their HVDCs would provide

      • March 31, 2022 5:04 pm

        Doesn’t need terrorists, just a good hailstorm, or sand/dust-laden rain. Snowfall anyone?

      • Stuart Hamish permalink
        April 2, 2022 8:48 pm

        Millions of gallons of water are needed to wash and clean photovoltaic panel arrays ..They can be damaged and rendered inoperable after hailstorms . Millions of hectares of productive farmland and natural ecosystems are needed to install them .They would be practically useless in weeks of cloudy weather ,snow blankets or a volcanic aerosol haze like that of 1783 or 536 -37 AD.. The electricity grid of Alice Springs in the desert interior of Australia for example .,crashed when a cloud passed over the town . Then there is the spike in electricity prices in all countries and states [ Denmark , Germany , South Australia , Victoria , California ] where solar and wind power are mandated by government decree and the looming landfill solar toxic waste crisis so called ‘environmentalists ‘ – many of them affluent – seem happy to ignore ..

  4. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 30, 2022 12:20 pm

    To put that 185GWh into context, it barely represents 4 hours of peak demand in a cold December…so what about the other 740 hours?!

  5. March 30, 2022 12:22 pm

    What use are massive spikes of solar powered electricity in the middle of summer days?

    • Devoncamel permalink
      March 30, 2022 5:30 pm

      Dear OB, concrete canoes, chocolate tea pots and plastic fire guards come to mind.

  6. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 30, 2022 12:35 pm

    Possibly the greatest loss to UK science…. even the Graun understood that
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/03/idea-of-renewables-powering-uk-is-an-appalling-delusion-david-mackay

    • Vincent Booth permalink
      March 30, 2022 8:49 pm

      I read David Mackay’s book “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air” many years ago and it helped me to understand how people can be mislead by the false claims of the Green movement; such as wind and solar will support the UK economy. His observations are still valid today, pity that politicians don’t listen or understand. Thanks Ray for the link.

  7. Penda100 permalink
    March 30, 2022 12:54 pm

    Never too difficult to spend (waste) other people’s money.

  8. Mike Jackson permalink
    March 30, 2022 12:55 pm

    Kwarteng has gone native! There needs to be root and branch reorganisation at BEIS, starting with the prat who sneered at the idea that shale gas could be (at least) a short/medium term solution.
    Whitehall in general and one or two departments in particular are working contrary to the short-, medium- and long-term interests of the British people and somebody in government needs to take action very soon.

    • March 30, 2022 1:32 pm

      When the media finally twig just how much these so-called renewables are going to cost every family, and he hardship they will cause, for no and likely a negative benefit, things may change. Only then our dimwit politicians may decide they need to save their asses (seats) and drop support for this idiocy.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 30, 2022 5:08 pm

      I’ve seen figures of 25-30 years banded about as how long it takes from discovery to production for an oil/gas field. Despite the fact that Fortes came online in less than 4 years in the early 1970s and technology has come a long way since then.

      It seems that the Greens/Environmentalists have done their usual and used fields discovered decades ago and for whatever reason, predominantly economically not viable I suspect, not exploited until much later. The key start date is not when the field was discovered but when the decision was made to open the field. There’s no reason why that couldn’t be half a century or more between discovery and the decision to extract which could begin within a couple of years.

  9. March 30, 2022 1:03 pm

    Solar panels also serve as “Air Fryers” for birds.

  10. Gordon Hughes permalink
    March 30, 2022 1:10 pm

    For many of those involved this is a rather profitable business even if it is irrational as a way of running an electricity system. Under the previous system of ROCs the typical solar farm receives £65-70 per MWh on top of the market or sale price of electricity. 36GW of solar capacity is not going to be built as merchant plant, paid for solely from sales of electricity at market prices. That is a sure route to bankruptcy and all of the developers know that. In addition, it is now standard practice to claim that solar panels will last for 35 years (the reality is 20-25 years) so that depreciation charges are kept down and profits increased in the short run. On top of that there are all kinds of charges for managing renewable investment funds, etc.

    Follow the money rather than thinking of this as a coherent response to climate change. Quite apart from solar and wind generators there is a huge vested interest from journalists to investment managers in keeping the money train rolling. Of course the mugs are anyone with electricity bills to pay and regular businesses to run. So, everyone is encouraged to install solar panels to avoid inflated bills and the madness continues.

    • March 31, 2022 1:33 pm

      Mr Hughes,

      being rather cynical, Isn’t it true that these farms generally have batteries as part of the set up so they can bid on the capacity market which can bring in very much higher prices per unit?
      And will these batteries actually use grid power to ensure they are continually charged when not on discharge? I’m thinking of winter particularly, so essentially not being as green as they appear to the public and the planning authority?

  11. March 30, 2022 2:27 pm

    How much coal is burned in China to create the polysilicon necessary for the solar cells? China has 80% of the worlds manufacturing capacity for this solar cell starting material. And how much energy is consumed to create the aluminum used in the support structures, which is one of the most energy intensive structural materials? China has 60% of the worlds market here because they have cheap electricity.
    Throw in the capacity factor for solar in the UK of ~9.7% and what is the real cost to produce solar power?

    • William Henry Jefferson permalink
      March 30, 2022 5:20 pm

      Maybe we need a new definition of “renewable”. Any so-called renewable energy generator must produce more energy in its lifetime as was required to manufacture, install and maintain it (this should include any and all ground preparation prior tom installation and also disposal at the end of life.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 30, 2022 9:27 pm

      A detailed peer reviewed paper on “Energy Return on Energy Invested” (EROEI) of solar PV panels operating in high latitudes indicated that they ultimately consumed more power to manufacture than they produced in their operating lifetime.
      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421516301379
      Unsurprisingly Greens do not want this paper publicised.

      • Peter G Barrett permalink
        March 30, 2022 10:28 pm

        Such is the perversity of our energy “market” that solar panels can be economically justified. Let’s say two units of cheap energy are consumed to manufacture one panel, said panel goes on to produce a lifetime output of one unit of energy costing three times as much, the enterprise is eventually profitable. Environmental disaster, the product of global economics.

  12. Gamecock permalink
    March 30, 2022 3:00 pm

    This is propaganda to get you to believe Net Zero is possible.

    It’s not about solar panels at all.

    ‘Total solar capacity was 13500 MW, which means solar was working at just 1.8% of capacity’

    So stop calling it ‘capacity.’ Characterizing it as the theoretical maximum output in a market of real time demand doesn’t work.

    Not done. The Sheffield chart is hillarious. Demand is real time, not monthly. The correct perspective for such a chart is hourly. (Follow the Sheffield link, then select “Last 3 days” to see what hourly looks like.) People will see that half the time, output is double-ought zero. A quarter of the time, solar output is marginal. Only a quarter of some days produce anything near ‘capacity.’

    ‘Kwarteng’s 36 GW of new capacity will be add just 0.6 GW in the middle of winter.’

    Forget winter. It’s 0.0 GW every night.

  13. Jack Broughton permalink
    March 30, 2022 3:19 pm

    Following Sean’s note, we will be transferring our allegiances from one petty despot to another and exporting even more jobs to become the Saudi of solar as well as wind. Maybe Saudi is not a good analogy given its merciless bombing of one of the world’s poorest countries?

  14. Jack Broughton permalink
    March 30, 2022 3:24 pm

    Following San’s comment: the UK is apparently determined to transfer its allegiances from one petty despot to another. No doubt the PM intends the UK to be the Saudi of solar now; maybe Saudi is not a good analogy tho’ given that they are intent on massacring one of the world’s poorest countries.

  15. William George permalink
    March 30, 2022 3:46 pm

    Kwarteng needs locking up. The man and those advising him are a danger to society.

  16. jimlemaistre permalink
    March 30, 2022 4:20 pm

    This ‘Green Energy’ propaganda brought to us by the Scientifically ignorant would be laughable if it did not take such a major role in our collective public directives . . . Well intentioned as they may be . . . Green Energy is a Fraud . . . supported by the media, environmentalists and those who will profit from delivering what is little more than a Magicians Trick of slight of hand. Believing that carbon will be reduced is an outright Lie !

    Solar Panels, the main problem with them is the Heat and the chemicals needed during processing using the ‘Czochralski Method’ turning all that silicate into the silicon used to make these panels. Producing pure Silicon requires the processing of raw silicate. Including the 1,425o C Heat required to melt the quartz crystals, usually by burning coking coal or gas. The Glass covers are made by heating sand, soda ash and limestone to the incredibly high temperature of 1,700o C with gas. Then they are Re-Heated to 450o for tempering. What about the CO2 going up the chimneys where that quartz or that glass was melted? Then, silica, we use hydrochloric acid, Sulfuric Acid, Nitric Acid, Hydrogen Fluoride, Trichloroethane, and Acetone. Do we recycle that waste? What happens to all the ‘left-overs’ from using these highly toxic chemicals? Solar Panels need gallium-arsenide, copper-indium, gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride. All of which are highly toxic even radioactive. Furthermore, Silicon dust is a hazard to workers where silicone is made and where it used. Oh, and last, the Silicone infused Solar Panels cannot, as yet, be recycled. What happens to all the by-products from making and processing all these chemicals? Furthermore, it has been suggested that the energy input to build solar panels exceeds their energy output in their productive lifetime . . .

    ‘Carbon Allowances’ are A One Trillion Dollar Scam
    Carbon Trade is Already Covering the Equivalent of
    One Half of World Energy Emissions of $1 Trillion
    Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (ICE) has said that trading in ‘Carbon Allowances’ has reached a record volume in 2021 on its various markets — the volume of Buying and Selling reached the equivalent of about one half of ALL global energy emissions. A total of 18 billion tons of ‘Carbon Allowances’ were traded in 2021. Equivalent to an estimated 1 trillion in US dollars. ICE trades by far the biggest market share in the Global market, although other exchanges including the European Energy Exchange (EEX) also handle sizable volumes, as well.

    This whole system is a Self-Fulfilling Prophesy . . .A game of Slight of Hand . . . A Magician’s Trick . . .

    Who will stand against this Injustice? . . . Who will go on the Record? . . . Where is the Media??

  17. Peter MacFarlane permalink
    March 30, 2022 5:19 pm

    “And we’re going to spend £36 billion on this nonsense?”

    Yup. Carrie wants it.

    • Julian Flood permalink
      March 31, 2022 10:14 am

      Will no-one rid us of this troublesome Green?

      What we need is a gorgeous brunette with a PhD in renewable energy and the dedication to sacrifice her honour (ahem) for the good of the country. A counter-renewable honey trap.

      JF

  18. Mad Mike permalink
    March 30, 2022 5:31 pm

    Over in OZ people who have experienced years of sleep interference from wind turbines have just won an action to get the turbines turned off at night.

    https://stopthesethings.com/2022/03/26/landmark-decision-vindicates-victims-supreme-court-orders-total-wind-farm-shutdown/

    As far as I can make out it was won under Common Law so the ruling might have influence on any similar problem over here. I know these things make a noise but I don’t know of any complaints by people affected by the noise in the UK but, such is the negativity of such news and coverage, we’re not likely to are we.

  19. Brian Gosney permalink
    March 30, 2022 6:00 pm

    Also there is the short life of these bloody things It’s not twenty years they quote it’s only round 6 years of continuous generation .To create the illusion of the twenty years you need massive amounts of money to fill the cap .So who are the idiots who push this system of electricity generation

    • March 30, 2022 6:12 pm

      Who are the idiots? The ones we voted for perhaps? Then again, we didn’t have a great deal of choice, just idiots.

  20. Dave Ward permalink
    March 30, 2022 6:52 pm

    “We get virtually no electricity from solar farms in winter”

    But over the last week or so, we still got more from solar panels than wind turbines!

  21. Joe Public permalink
    March 30, 2022 7:28 pm

    Matt Cartoons @MattCartoonist – his latest cartoon for tomorrow’s @Telegraph

  22. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 30, 2022 10:37 pm

    In Australia the Feed-In-Tariff has been dropping from the initial £290 per MWh to around £25 per MWh (depending on which State you are in). This doesn’t really repay the cost of panels but the Solar Companies have resorted to increasing the size of the suggested installation to around 6.6kW and adding a battery. This isn’t economic but the “selling point” is that you can avoid blackouts (via the claim that you can avoid times of peak demand).
    The all up cost would be around £8,000 for a small battery.
    And these are Chinese panels of doubtful longevity, 9-1 years.

  23. Julian Flood permalink
    March 31, 2022 10:18 am

    Paul, you mention Call Me Matt Hancock. He went on a protest march at a Say No to Sunnica demo. It was like being back in the ’60s.

    JF

  24. Matt Dalby permalink
    March 31, 2022 10:11 pm

    With food prices set to significantly increase due to the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia which could last for years, taking farmland out of production by covering it in solar panels, thus leading to further supply shortages and even higher prices is the last thing a sensible politician would consider doing.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 1, 2022 2:54 pm

      Don’t forget the rewilding insanity and wads of cash to plant trees everywhere.

  25. April 1, 2022 3:31 pm

    And we have the spectacle today of the leader of the opposition, Stoopid Starmer, blaming energy prices on high supply prices and profiteering by the oil/gas co’s, not understanding that it’s been the western governments’ POLICIES that have caused this, which Labour would have exacerbated to make lives much worse.

    We then have demonstrators today at oil/gas depots protesting against oil & gas, yet just don’t understand that their lives literally depend on them, e.g. for food, clean water, medicines, energy itself, education, housing, transport, employment, etc., etc.

  26. John Wainwright permalink
    April 4, 2022 4:33 pm

    It may have been only 1.8% of capacity in Dec 2021, but even in the peak months of June and July 2021 it was only a pathetic 15%, and that was the best it could manage!

  27. James broadhurst permalink
    April 8, 2022 8:55 am

    Combining the invaluable data collected by REF, the value of ROC from ofgem and the latest accounts of Welborne Energy Ltd, owned by Southwick Solar Farm llp, show that this 50MW solar farm would be bankrupted without the ROC subsidy. The interest and debt repayment on the £50million it cost to build would wipe it out.

    The ultimate owner is an investment fund whose parent owns the company who manages the farm for £0.5m pa. The farms load factor is a respectable 11%

    My, serious question, is this: the current high cost of electricity is here for a few years so what happens to every unsubsidised solar farm about to be built/completed when the market price drops as it most assuredly will?

    • April 8, 2022 10:03 am

      James,

      11% load factor may be respectable for a solar farm but it is abysmal in comparison to conventional generators. (Nuclear being an exception as it runs at near maximum except for refuelling and summer routine maintenance) Not only do conventional generators acheive much higher availabiliy it is available as and when required. Solar’s power curve relative to time is not compatible with the demand on the grid. The extreme being winter when maximum demand occurs in the dark.

      My personal opinion is that solar should never have any subsidies to connect to the grid, it is that poor as a generator. It should certainly never be allowed to be sited on useable farm land.

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