I popped up to Lincolnshire last week for the big switch on of our first Sun Park.
It’s a 1MW installation next door to our existing 16MW Wind Park – making it not just the first proper Sun Park in the UK but the first Hybrid Energy Park.
That’s something we’re pretty keen on, the combination of two intermittent, but complementary, forms of Renewable Energy – we think the likely outcome will be a smoothing effect. The sun and the wind tend to come at different times. Now that it’s up and running we get to test the theory and we’ll keep you posted.
There’s a nice news report here if you’re interested. Credit BBC… 🙂
We had big hopes, not just for big solar projects, but also for Hybrid schemes like this. And within the boundaries of each Sun Park we planned to create a nature reserve, a habitat for insects, birds and bees.
So last week, with its perfect weather for the opening of a Hybrid energy park (lots of sun and wind), was a bit of a bitter sweet event – great to see this first Sun Park up and ‘running’ (they don’t actually move, which though obvious, once you’ve been staring at them for an hour or two, does kind of impact) – and great to see the evidence already of nature taking back this small piece of farmland (five acres). But of course this will be our last Sun Park due to the governments crazy emergency U-turn on feed in tariffs the other week.
I just wanted to flag up here the extent to which killing off Big Solar really is a false economy, and not just something at odds with a serious green agenda – a point we’ve tried making to the government.
The government’s big issue with Big Solar appears to be its apparent success, the sheer amount of it that might get built – and the cost.
They’ve capped the amount that can be spent, under Feed in Tariffs, at £360M per year (come 2014), making this the only FIT scheme in the world with a cap in the process.
And it’s this cap that then caused their big problem (they say) – the possibility that Big Solar could be successful at the expense of other technologies, funding wise – because funding is suddenly limited. OK that’s the background.
The £360M a year equates to roughly £5 per household per year – not a fortune – roughly 1% of a typical electricity bill.
In contrast – Each time the cost of oil doubles, as it has in the last few years and will do again (and again), electricity bills rise by something like 30% – or £150 a year. Money that goes to energy market traders and speculators.
Far better we think to spend those kinds of sums on indigenous energy sources. We told the government so in our response to the FiT U-turn.
And then, just last week, we had a graphic demonstration.
British Gas announced a price rise of 16% for electricity and 18% for gas – adding £192 a year to a typical dual fuel energy bill with BG – and causing considerable consternation to the government, bless them.
Chris Huhne, the minister who’s department has just felled Big Solar because £5 a year is quite enough to spend on renewables thank you very much – had this to say:
“This announcement will be tough for consumers who are already struggling to meet their bills. The uncomfortable truth is Britain’s consumers are being buffeted by the violent and unpredictable winds of global fossil fuel prices.
“I refuse to stand by and watch this happen.
“I’m pushing the big six suppliers to help their customers overhaul their draughty homes and understand the best tariffs on offer, and I’m backing new entrants to bring more competition to the market.
“But there’s a way out of this. Look at how the French benefit from only relying on fossil fuels for a fraction of their power – bills there are only expected to rise by 3% this year.
“The UK electricity market has to change, so that we escape the cycle of fossil fuel addiction. Alternatives like renewables and nuclear power must be allowed to become the dominant component of our energy mix.
“Only radical reform now will give us the best chance in the long run of keeping the lights on at a price that doesn’t wreck our economy over and over again.”
These are fine words. But they don’t seem to match the deeds. Lots of rhetoric about radical reform of the energy market, when we can’t even have a proper Feed in Tariff. It’s a proper Renewable Energy program we need. Not righteous indignation when the inevitable happens. And keeps happening.
And this is not an isolated price rise – The Guardian reports that British Gas customers have seen their fuel bills rise twice in the last few months – by a total of £258 a year – an almost 25% increase….!
By the time we get to 2014 and the Feed in tariff costs this horrific £5 per household – fossil fuel energy bills could well have risen by £1,000 a year (at this rate), or at least if you’re with British Gas…. 🙂
That’s £1,000 every year, not just a one off.
It kind of takes our point and makes it rather emphatically.
And it’s not just British Gas, Scottish power energy bills went up 21% (or £239) just last month.
Scrimping on the cost of renewables now, killing big solar because a fiver per house is already too much to bear – is a false economy – one that we will pay for many times over in years to come. We’ll spend far larger sums simply keeping pace with energy market speculators and traders – and that money is wasted, truly, compared to using it to build energy sources of our own.
That’s it, all I wanted to say….. 🙂
P.S. The panels for this project are Sharp NU range – made in Wrexham, UK.