Solar Subsidy – Government That Works 58

One of the ways I stop myself getting over-depressed in periods whent I am skint is to make plans for what I will do with money when I have some. At the moment I am looking at mounting solar panels on my roof.

I intend to put up 12 panels producing 3000 kWh per year, at an initial cost of about £7,000. This will produce an income based on the feed-in tariff of about £750, index linked, on official statistics, and probably a little more as Ramsgate is one of the sunniest part of England, and my roof faces perfectly South with a 32 degree pitch. This works well for me as a personal investment – hard to get an index-linked and safe return over 10% nowadays.

This is of course because the feed-in tariff, at over 40p per kw/h is far greater than the current economic cost of generation (the gas turbine power station we have just built in Ghana, for example, produces at a full cost of about 10p per kw/h).

BUT we are going to produce ourselves over half the electricity we use. What is more a whole new industry has been kick-started. In getting quotes I have been besieged by local firms, all based within a few miles from here. That is an awful lot of people employed, paying tax and not claiming benefits. With this artificial stimulation of demand, the price of solar panel installations has plummeted as production savings kick in. In three years the cost per kw/h has halved. I will not be surprised if it halves again. As fossil fuel costs continue to rise, this will become a fully economic way to produce electricity. The kick-starting of that process by the feed-in tariff is a rare example of the government creatively stimulating the economy to promote economic growth and employment.

The government has put countless billions in bailouts and guarantees into propping up rich bankers and protecting them from the consequences of their uselessness at their job. Quantitive easing has given them a further £225 billion. Think of this. That £225 billion has been used to subsidise useless bankers by giving them good money in return for junk assets they had invested in. Not a single penny has found its way to anybody else but a banker, as increased bank lending has not happened.

Quantitive Easing has been described by paid apologists of the 1% as neo-Keynesianism, reflating the economy. Utter bollocks. It is a transfer of wealth to rich bankers, paid for by everybody else as high inflation. But what if the £225 billion created by quantitive easing had really been used in a Keynesian way, for public works?

What if it had been used to insulate everybody’s home, to give everybody solar panels, micro wind turbines, and heat pumps? What employment and growth would have been created then? What if we had built high speed railways and the Severn barrage?

No – they just gave the cash to the fatcat bankers. The solar feed-in tariff is the only measure of government economic stimulation I can think of. The Conservatives wish now to abandon it, on ideological grounds.

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58 thoughts on “Solar Subsidy – Government That Works

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  • Strategist

    >>>”But what if the £225 billion created by quantitive easing had really been used in a Keynesian way, for public works? What if it had been used to insulate everybody’s home, to give everybody solar panels, micro wind turbines, and heat pumps? What employment and growth would have been created then? What if we had built high speed railways and the Severn barrage?”

    Craig, you have just perfectly described the Green New Deal

    I particularly agree about the Severn Barrage. There’s even a way of getting tidal power from the Severn that doesn’t even upset the RSPB!

  • evgueni

    Oops missed out a couple of Ks earlier: 18kkWhs/annum for my house versus 3kkWhs from Craig’s £7k investment, in case some numerate soul was perturbed. Anyway, question to Craig still stands – why should some (majority) subsidise through their higher energy bills the energy consumption of others who happen to have £7k lying around? Arguments along the lines of “we all benefit in the end” clearly won’t do, what else is there?
    Greenflation is a reality for everyone, but most keenly felt by the poorest – pensioners etc. If they knew how this swindle works, and had a say in the matter, they would not be in favour of the subsidy. Would you care to comment?

  • angrysoba

    Fork It,
    Great! Where can I buy my free energy generator? It would only take an enterprising entepreneur with a bit of spare capital to get those things on the market straight away. I hope they aren’t sitting around waiting for “The 1%” to start bankrolling it.

  • OffTopic

    Why is the excellent Voltairenet down?

    Been a few days. Tech probs or something more serious. The quality of their output on Libya and the outflow from that has been phenomenal, so I cynically assume they have found a spanner or two in the works. But people are posting links to articles on Twitter? Just overwhelmed by traffic perhaps?

  • Fedup

    Sorry to piss on your parade, but considering the battery technology, and the shortcomings thereof. Solar, power production really makes piddly swat difference to the overall cost of power consumption at the current extortionate rates (I should know I have 2 useless degrees and even a more useless masters degree, and still cannot earn me a living, after 38 years of study, and learning. I now firmly believe, there is no money in engineering and sciences. Hence, I have been advising anyone, whom would listen; to go learn signing, and kicking a ball, turning up in Xfactor and buying a lottery ticket. There is no money in being a smart Alec, moreover, thinking is a dangerous pastime these days).
    The inane babbling of the paid and bribed stooges posing as politicians, is based on the premise that, if there is an alternative, then the great unwashed would not take up their shovels, and pitchfork and get on with upsetting the apple cart. The thinking behind urging the unemployed to take jobs, is designed to hide the fact that there are no jobs. The notion of changing energy suppliers, hides the fact that the bastards running the oligopolistic energy market have sewn up the market, and the fact that the current supply contracts are based on the annual energy use, and the umpteen tariffs on offer, with even a greater permutations of the schemes, to bamboozle the punters suffering from a sever case of dyscalculia. These are designed to hide the almost feudal structure of the available energy supply arrangement. Simply put, did you ever go to a supermarket to buy a bag of sugar, only to find yourself being questioned by the cashier; how many bags of sugar do you use per annum? When do you use your sugar most, have you ever used brown sugar? Although we ought to take solace in the knowledge that, we are enslaved and not bombed and shredded to pieces as is the case for those former residents of lands with oil fields, as in Iraq, Libya, Sudan, etc.
    The notion of alternative energy supply is to obfuscate the inordinate cost of energy which evidently is taken by force, and at very little price at source, and then mercilessly hiked up to the prices we are subjected to. The symbiosis of the robber energy barons, and greedy politicians’ taxes are then sought to be addressed through almost infantile solutions; alternative energy.
    The Ponzi scheme of “buy back” further sweetens the deal, for those daring to take the plunge, whilst leaving others to blame themselves; they are not trying hard enough to find a job, they are not clever enough to find better prospects, and they are not affluent enough to take advantage of the alternative energy, or they are too lazy not to find a cheaper energy supply!!!!!
    Finally the pusillanimous characters whom ought to be avoiding the applications of any probable enema treatment with utmost due care and deliggence (for there shall only remain a piece of flaccid skin post any such event) pontificate about QE, and other matters of importance, with no understanding of the biggest robbery (reverse Robin Hood) in the history of mankind, that is currently under way.
    Take your seven grand (if you had it mate) and spend it on something more fun, you will spare yourself a lot of disappointment, science somehow never follows fashion, that is true science, not the pseudo science pushed as the real McCoy.

  • Michael

    I bought all the components necessary to build a solar installation mounted on a satellite actuator that would track the sun from dawn to dusk and would power to charge a deep cycle battery that would power a 12 vdc to 220 vac sine wave inverter. After a few trials the inverter failed and as the inverter cost €340 from China and the the courier wanted €200 to ship it back I am now left with a pile of junk. I advise anyone on ebay to keep away from Power Jack 5000 watt pure sine wave inverter. I,m living in Ireland and their is no payment for electricity sent back to the grid. When the madmen in the US and Israel attack Iran you will appreciate your solar panels. There was a good video on ebay where two guys were attempting to fix the same type of inverter with a sledge hammer and a chisel.

    For anyone interested in solar tracking visit

  • Cucumber Type

    This to me is like a discussion of whether Jack the Ripper has fried eggs or scrambled eggs for breakfast. The whole country can sink and the world would be a better place. If the wave caused by its sinking demolishes Washington and the Hague, so much the better.

  • SBD Articles

    I understand that the technology to create ‘free energy’ has existed on this planet for a long time and that despite efforts to deliberately keep the human race in a state of dependancy on the oil cartels etc, a guy in Australia has come up with a small generator that creates energy. It has been looked at by a number of independant scientist who although at first refused to believe it, have verified that the generator creates five times more energy than it uses. It uses magnets to create perpetual movement from which energy is derived. More information on this story is on youtube FREE ENERGY GENERATOR AUSTRALIA. Another example involves a guy in the states who found a way to make his car run on water instead of petrol! See WATER RUNNING CAR GETS 100 MILES TO THE OUNCE on youtube. Self sufficiancy for the masses frightens the 1%. SBD Articles

  • Richard88

    Is it really acceptable to create an eyesore on your roof just to milk taxpayers?
    No generator which takes more energy to manufacture, install and maintain than it will ever produce is good for the planet. Money should be going into thorium-based nuclear generators and insulation, not this kind of nonsense.

  • craig Post author

    I am not deleting the SBD articles comment above in order to demonstrate that one of the surest proofs that the Australian magic technology is an attempted scam is its use of automated spam.

  • Guest

    Lets face the truth, it is not in the interests of capitalism to ever allow any system that is not in the interests of the few to make huge sums of money ever come into being. Decades ago Scotland could have been a power house of renewable energy and even exporting it, even England could be potentially great in this field, it has not happened, it will not happen for a very long time (if ever).

  • mary

    Aussie Spammer doesn’t seem to know about split infinitives and also is not much good at spelling – e.g. independant
    In Oz Gillard (who looks and walks like one of my hens who is called Beakie) has been busy crawling round HM Queen throughout the tour.
    Just like a competitor in a reality show or the old format Miss World, Cameron was announced and came on stage, looking rather embarrassed, to join the others in CHOGM for a group photo. What a farce. Male primogeniture is the main topic as the world economy is going belly up.
    Cameron has just announced a new trust to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee next year. In the usual manner, there is a job for one of the boys to head it, Sir John Major.

  • mary

    Wow and this too
    BREAKING NEWS:Commonwealth heads of government also agree to remove the ban on a spouse of a Roman Catholic taking the throne.

  • Rob King

    @Fork it and others. Hilarious. I laughed until the tears ran down my legs.
    Is April 1st upside-down in Australia or something? Entropy–not just a fun idea–it’s the law.
    This machine is just as likely:

  • Stephen

    Given the estimated costs of producing energy given here

    I would have thought that the argument for not paying a 20-25p subsidy to predominantly middle class householders in order for them to produce their own solar energy would be pretty overpowering. Given the level of subsidy is so high, the actual return to the investor is in fact pretty paltry which points to this being a pretty inefficient way of generating alternative energy.

    There of course remains the question of how the saved subsidy is otherwise used.

  • wendy

    don worry folks the energy companies dont cut you off , theyr not allowed to .. they just give you a pre payment meter .. what could be better ?
    anyway where are the fat cat celebrities .. why arent they @ St Pauls etc ?

  • ingo

    Bang on Wendy, where are the champagne socialists?, the Unionists and workers. I hear Dan Hoare is speaking up for the protesters to leave, thats two political parties who can’t see the soci political importance of that encampment.

    It will not be easy to remove the protesters, maybe the courts will get it done by Jan, but it seems as if the love of the church has been exhausted.

    When will they see and start acting?

  • mary

    Seeing your mention of the name Hoare Ingo, did we ever hear the outcome of his inquest? (the News Int’l man Sean Hoare found dead in July)

  • sjb

    @Stephen (27 October)
    “The idea of QE is […] to encourage the banks to lend more […]”

    Yes, but isn’t it true that (in the round) UK banks are not lending to UK businesses but are instead investing more the Far East where their return on investment is greater? Isn’t that why Osborne is now trying to get the BoE to push money direct to businesses?

  • evgueni

    The question was politely ignored, again – duly noted. This is where all kinds of ideologues, well-intentioned of course, come unstuck always. They have trouble explaining why undemocratic means are required to achieve “the common good”.
    Perhaps they think that the average person, with their average IQ, just doesn’t know what’s good for them 😉

  • anno


    In refrigeration, different gases gain heat during compression at different rates. That’s entropy, the accumulation rate of heat. Then you blow away the heat from the compression and get coolth.

    In economics, pumping money into the economy has different effects depending where you put it. Obama tried giving money to people. Some give it as reduction in VAT, others give it in tax breaks to the rich. QE gives it to the banks.
    In economics you are trying to get cheapness, not coolth.

    What do governments want to keep cheap? The cost of borrowing to fight illegal wars against oil-rich Muslim countries in order to deprive Islam of a power base. Otherwise it would be a very inefficient way of obtaining natural resources.

    The government isn’t interested in helping the economy, as they claim. They are only interested at the moment in wrecking the chances of their ideological enemies. If they were interested in helping the economy, they would be putting the money into the economy, not the banks.

    Will they succeed in their ideological struggle against Islam?
    The economic squeeze has done two things, incapacitated protest in the West, and precipitated protest in Muslim countries.
    If a person has an external wound, you sort that out, but if they are haemorraging inside, how do you sort that out?
    They are counting on being able to sort out the economic problems of the West and destroying Islam with pent-up distress.
    Unfortunately it is in the West that stress is increasing, and eating up people’s ability to function, while in Islam people have become much more focussed. That is because there is only one source of stress, the fear of failure on the Day of Judgement. They forgot about that.

  • Bob

    They’re about to reduce the FIT for the solar scam to 20p from 43p so I wouldn’t bother with this particular global warming scam.

  • Craig W

    A cheaper use of solar energy is solar water heating. The concept and the technology are pretty simple: pipes coming off your water supply snake through a glass box on your roof, the pipes are clad in black to absorb heat. The pipes then exit into your boiler or storage tank. On a hot day this will heat your water a great deal and cut back the amount of energy required to reach boiling point for showers etc. It is probably also a more efficient use of solar energy than incurring the losses in converting to electricity.

    The down side of course is that the days when you really need hot water, the cold dark days of winter, a solar water heater will be little more than an ornament.

  • Komodo

    Even in winter, you should be able to raise the temperature of your fossil-fuel or electric boiler’s feed water enough to have some impact on the cost. Given an efficiently designed collector. Take it a stage further, and you might use the tepid water from the solar heater as the source for a heat pump.

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