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.