A UKIP member recently contacted me about a proposed solar power development around a Derbyshire village. Concerned villagers are opposed to the development, while local landowners expect to make a fortune in subsidies. Could I help? Of course I will be delighted to do what I can.
I wrote back in the following terms:
Key points: you need the UKIP energy policy booklet. We’ll send you hard copies. It mainly focuses on wind-power, because there’s more of that than solar PV. But exactly the same arguments apply to solar, in spades.
Like wind, solar PV is intermittent and unpredictable (OK, you know it won’t deliver at midnight — but in the UK, it may not deliver at noon either!) So it needs conventional back-up, which runs inefficiently and intermittently. So although the “renewable” solar PV delivers some power, it may not save significant amounts of fossil fuels, nor save significant emissions.
This is not about generating power or saving the planet. It’s about wholly unjustified and unwarranted subsidies. It’s about sucking on the distended teat of the state and the tax-payer. They’re not harvesting sunshine. They’re milking subsidies.
Wind power is unjustifiably expensive, but solar is more expensive still. We’re wasting money on political gestures that won’t deliver. There may be a case for solar in the Sahara desert. There is no case in Derbyshire.
The bitter irony is that there are technical developments in the pipeline that could make solar competitive in a few years’ time — especially thin film technology which could be applied (for example) to the south-facing windows of large office blocks. At least that wouldn’t disfigure the landscape and use land which could be used for other purposes. We’ll find we’ve invested in technology that is rapidly obsolete.
You’re right that this policy is directly dictated by Brussels, as part of their so-called 20-20-20 plan — calling for 20% of energy from renewables by 2020. This is economic suicide for Europe, at a time when America has access to cheap shale gas, and when new technologies will allow the USA to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. And China and India have cheap coal-fired electricity. How can the EU compete?
You may like to know that our group in the European parliament, the EFD, is working on a major initiative to call for a re-think of this appalling and destructive EU policy. We’ll be asking for your help in generating a million signatures across Europe on a protest. Groups opposing wind and solar developments will have a major part to play. More news in a couple of weeks.
Please keep me in touch with developments.