My Response to the Latest Renewable Heat Incentive Consultation

The United Kingdom’s Department of Energy & Climate Change has been pussy-footing around with the Renewable Heat Incentive. there is another short consultation which closes on 23rd April 2012. You can get the web link to the consultation at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/Renewable_ener/incentive/incentive.aspx

I have replied to the consultation on behalf of Genersys Plc. I set out my response below:- Continue reading

Why investing in income streams from PV arrays is not such a good deal

I promised to explain today why I believe the income stream from PV panels over 25 years will not prove as good an investment as some people are led to believe. Certainly the income stream is guaranteed by the government; certainly all legal measures have been taken to ensure that the installation of PV panels will qualify for the feed in tariff; certainly the PV panels will generate electricity and certainly the electricity they generate will be properly metered and fed into the grid. However, they are not a suitable investment for securitisation in my view.

First, we have to consider the amount of electricity that will be generated. At the 25 year fixed feed in tariff of 43p per kWh (the top tariff shortly to be replaced by a tariff of half that amount) an average south facing roof covered with PV will produce an income from the government of around £1500. In the first year, that is.

Thereafter, the panels will degrade, like everything else degrades. PV installations have not been monitored for 25 years so the precise degradation in performance has not been measured properly. Best estimates are that the panels in themselves will produce 1% less electricity, on a compounded basis, year on year. That means that in ten years time the panels will produce maybe an income of £1000, rather than £1500.

Secondly, as climate change kicks in so it is likely that our summers will get hotter and hotter. That is a good thing if you like hot weather, but not a good thing for PV producing electricity. PV produces the best output at lowish temperatures. If you sit by a feed in meter and watch the production of electricity on a very hot day in July in bright sunshine you will see that electricity production is much less than in bright milder weather.

Thirdly, I expect some installations will break down from time to time. PV systems need an inverter because PV produces DC electricity which has to be inverted to AC before it can be fed in to the grid. Inverters break down and wear out and need to be replaced and there will be times over the life of a PV system when the PV array is not working because the inverter needs to be replaced.

Finally, I expect accidents will happen to PV systems, especially if the house owner is trying to sell his house and finds that the PV system is making that process hard.

The problem is not with PV, or indeed not even with the undesirably high feed in tariff. The problem is that instead of becoming a genuine micro energy investment for a home owner, PV has become a spiv type business, where unsuspecting people of good intentions are being persuaded to grant leases of their homes’ roofs for 25 years in order to profit a hard selling organisation that cares not for the environment but for their own profit.

Why Getting Free PV on your Roof is a Bad idea

The subsidies offered by the government for PV panels – panels that produce electricity – were for the past two years or so incredibly generous. In fact the subsidies were so generous that businessmen found it highly profitable to turn the subsidy into a derivative government bond. What these businessmen did was to offer the free use of PV panels on a householder’s roof so that the householder could get free electricity in the daylight and the owner of the panels would get the subsidy, paid on the basis of a metered feed in tariff. Having installed PV panels on many roofs the panel owners would sell the income as a bond offering a secure 25 year income stream to people or institutions that needed an investment. Continue reading

Energy independence; we must strive for as much of it as we can achieve

One of the most vulnerable parts of a developed society is the supply of energy. If the supply of energy is disturbed, interrupted or even threatened society has to make rapid adjustments many of which result in suffering and loss of prosperity. Continue reading

Accidents will happen on oil and gas rigs, again

For the past few days theElginrig in theNorth Seahas been leaking methane. As a precaution “non essential” workers have left the rig. Methane clouds have been noted above the rig and gas concentrate six miles long has appeared as a sheen on the sea surface. Continue reading

The Incompetence of Governments

I have been running a thermal solar energy business in the United Kingdom (Genersys) for more than ten years. This deals in solar water heating panels and is a renewable energy technology, which provides almost emission free  energy. During that time I have been astonished by the incompetence of government when it comes to energy matters. Fossil fuel, or renewable, governments and civil servants do not understand what they are doing and seem incapable of making the very simple and basic decisions which would require common sense and intelligence. Continue reading

We Got Two (aircraft carriers) With Nothing to Do

The United Kingdom’s ability to waste public money seems to no know bounds. Several years ago Gordon Brown decided that the Clyde shipyards should build two air craft carriers just before he left office and as a result the government is spending (I should say wasting) £10 billion on building two aircraft carriers in Scotland which will never be in service by the United Kingdom because it cannot afford to put aircraft on them. The government that succeeded that of Mr Brown is too lacking in courage to cancel the building of the carriers (and presumably if it did cancel the job it would have to pay high penalty charges to the shipyards) and so the waste goes on. Continue reading

Radioactive Daffodils

When the UKgovernment asked for places to volunteer for sites under which high level radioactive waste from nuclear power stations could be buried it was met with a deafening silence. When it added some grant money and the potential for jobs only one place stepped up –West Cumbria, which is one leading a race comprising of only one participant.

The ability to safely dispose of nuclear waste by burial is not yet proven. Much depends upon the local geology and the precise methodology of storage. Radioactive waste is hard to contain unless you have a foolproof system of storing it and there are too many fools around for anything to be foolproof.

The issue is complicated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) which may take place many miles from the storage site, but which may create weaknesses through which radioactive gases may escape to the surface of theLake District. A new Wordsworth may write

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high over vales and hills

When all at once I saw a crowd

Of radioactive daffodils

The Queen should be taxed like the rest of us, otherwise we are not all in this together.

The budget announcement contained many things of interest to elderly immensely wealthy pensioners. Their age allowances were lowered, higher rate tax was lowered by 10% from 50% to 45%, there was talk of an embryonic mansion tax for properties over £2 million, tax loopholes for people living in mansions that were sheltered from capital gains tax were closed, because in the present economic crisis, we are all in this together. But one immensely rich elderly person is not in this with us all – the Queen. Continue reading

Discriminate Against Canadian Oil from Oil Tar Sands

If you buy food you expect to know where the food was produced and how it was produced. It is reasonable to know, for example, if the food is produced in a way that may be hazardous to your health, or if the food comes from a country which you would rather not deal with. When it comes to buying wood products many people want to know, before they buy and as a condition of their buying, that the wood is produced from sustainable sources, rather than from illegal logging. Continue reading