Onshore Vs Offshore Wind: Which is Best?

Offshore-vs-onshore-Wind

Recent data produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) suggests that onshore wind is by far the cheapest option when it comes renewable energy generation in the UK.

That led Green MP Caroline Lucas to suggest that the Government needs to reverse its decision on reducing subsidies for onshore wind and excluding them from auctions. According to the BBC this week:

“The estimates by BEIS show that it will cost £63 to generate a megawatt hour of electricity using onshore wind energy, reinforcing Caroline Lucas’s claim. It’s the cheapest renewable power source listed, in comparison with £106 for offshore wind.”

What Happened to Onshore Wind?

There’s no doubt that onshore wind suffered from a fair deal of nimbyism over the last decade or so, despite the fact that it’s cheaper to install than offshore windfarms. That’s why the current Government have been more focused on building out to sea rather than on farm land or countryside.

It does, however, ignore the fact that most people are not against onshore wind at all.

The Benefits of Onshore Wind

A report in June 2018 by BVG Associates demonstrated that onshore wind could deliver over £1.6 billion in benefits to energy consumers and the local economy in the UK if the Government changed their current policy. It could do this in a number of ways, including:

  • In the current environment, greater investment in onshore wind would create a large number of long-term, sustainable jobs.
  • More onshore wind farms would improve the energy security of the UK and lower our carbon emissions at the same time.
  • It’s a proven technology that has already been shown to be cost effective – more so on land where the challenges of off-shore construction and maintenance are not so high.
  • Onshore wind will attract investment because it’s proven and more projects would lead to the creation of a supply chain of associated businesses and even more jobs.

The idea that onshore wind is not liked by much of the UK population may also be largely apocryphal. According to Scottish Power CEO Lindsay McQuade:

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new build electricity generation available in the UK today, and statistics show that it is supported by over three-quarters of the British public. The Government can benefit from cheap, green and clean energy to deliver the Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Plan by supporting onshore wind as well.”

To their credit, the Government has recently changed onshore wind rules though this is more to allow off-shore islands to compete in contracts for difference auctions.

Many in the renewables sector now believe that we should be moving towards allowing more projects to be built on mainland UK. That’s supported by industry groups who believe that both wind and solar will need to play a vital role in the UK energy infrastructure if we are to fully address carbon emissions and energy security for the future.

Whether the Government will listen remains to be seen. Despite evidence to the contrary, it doesn’t look like any major onshore wind farms are going to be built any time soon. While that might satisfy the ardent nimbyists in governmental ranks, it may not be the best thing for the energy future of the UK.

Green Mortgages: Is E.ON’s Partnership with BNP Paribas The Future?

Green Mortgages

Recent news that E.ON has entered into a partnership with personal finance company BNP Paribas was welcomed by many green energy experts. Designed to deliver the home improvements we need to realise a low carbon future for millions of home owners, it could be the first step in a new revolution.

After past initiatives like the Green Deal were closed down by the Government and Feed in Tariffs greatly reduced on installations such as solar, support for helping homeowners move to a low carbon future have been sadly lacking.

According to Michael Lewis, CEO at E.ON:

“Green mortgages have the potential to be a game changer in the delivery of affordable finance and we are ready to meet the challenge for home-owners motivated to take the step into energy efficient living.”

What Are Green Mortgages?

Green mortgages have been around for a while now but haven’t really taken off in the UK. The actual definition varies from lender to lender which can often add to the confusion. Some use it to provide home financing products for buyers who select properties which are built through sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Barclays Green Mortgage, for example, is aimed at buyers of new builds that are highly energy efficient.

Key to the success any green mortgage is providing low cost financing for those who want to make their homes more sustainable and greener.

What is E.ON Offering?

The E.ON financing and installation service is designed to help home buyers to make the right choices when it comes to various green technologies for their property. It’s important to note that the vast majority of housing stock in the UK wasn’t built with this new green energy future and sustainability in mind. That means old stock requires a substantial amount of investment to bring it up to the standards required to meet carbon emissions reductions over the next few years.

The truth is that around 70% of homes in the UK still fall below the EPC band rating of C that we all need to achieve. The green mortgage product that E.ON is looking to develop will make financing more readily available to first time buyers, home movers and those re-mortgaging their properties. The pilot scheme is part of the EU Energy Efficient Mortgage Action Plan (EeMAP) and, if successful, could see a major change in the way that many domestic green energy initiatives are implemented in the UK.

As part of the arrangement, BNP Paribas would provide the financing and E.ON the installation service for a variety of green infrastructure projects. That could include everything from improving insulation in your home or putting in new double glazing to updating heating systems, installing heat pumps and even installing solar panels and battery storage. Other green initiatives such as EV charging points for cars could also be included in the service provision once it’s up and running.

The move by E.ON has been greeted positively. According to BNP Paribas CEO, Stephen Hunt:

“As a pioneer in positive banking we are proud to play an active role in both driving forward new sustainable business opportunities and helping the local communities in which we work throughout the UK.”

Whether other energy providers begin to follow suit when it comes to green mortgages and other financing remains to be seen. If we are to move towards a low carbon society, however, it’s initiatives like this that are going to make it possible.

According to Scientists 100% Renewables IS Possible!

Renewable Energy

Any person who is a fan of renewable energy has dreams of a future where there’s no need for fossil fuels at all.

There’ll be a set of solar panels on each roof, wind turbines turning lazily off shore, hydro plants making the most of our powerful tides and no sign of a gas pipe or diesel car in sight.

But is 100% renewables possible worldwide?

In order for that to happen, we would have to get rid of fossil fuels. It’s a noble prospects but bear in mind that in the UK alone 70% of our heating still comes from gas, the vast majority of our cars are petrol or diesel powered and we’re nowhere near being 100% renewable.

What Do Scientists Think?

In truth, there’s a pretty straight divide between those that believe it is possible and cost-effective and those that consider it a pipe dream. According to a report written by an Australian scientist, Benjamin Heard:

“Our assessment of studies proposing 100% renewable-electricity systems reveals that in all individual cases and across the aggregated evidence, the case for feasibility is inadequate for the formation of responsible policy directed at responding to climate change.”

A number of factors get in the way, say the naysayers, not least the fuel poverty experienced in many parts of the world that means coal, oil and gas are still the cheapest forms of energy production.

The Alternative Point of View

A response to this report, however, suggests a different future. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology produced a counter-argument in September this year. What the debate revolves around is that Heard pointed out a number of hurdles, such as severe weather events and whether renewable sources such as variability of production could make for a stable grid, are too difficult to overcome.

The new report suggests that we already have many of the technologies and solutions that we need to get over any such barriers to a 100% renewable energy future. For instance, batteries can be used to store electricity and these are improving by the day. In fact, the report says that none of the issues pointed out in Heard’s report prevent the feasibility or validity of a pure clean energy future.

According to the report authors:

“100% renewable systems that meet the energy needs of all citizens at all times are cost-competitive with fossil-fuel-based systems, even before externalities such as global warming, water usage and environmental pollution are taken into account.”

It does require a certain re-invention of parts of our energy structure and some regions in the world will have more difficulty than others. But it is not unachievable.

The trouble is that most people are entrenched in their views when it comes to a renewable future, and that includes the people at the top. Donald Trump, just a few days after climate change scientists told us we were in the last chance saloon, said that theirs was a political agenda, suggesting it wasn’t to be taken seriously.

There are many people who believe him. In Brazil, elections may sway to the right in the next month and bring in a government that will decide to join the US and opt out of the climate change agreement. Others may follow.

The key, however, is that switching to 100% renewables is not only feasible but cost-effective and we can’t lose sight of that. The industry can create millions of jobs around the world and usher in a new age of energy prosperity for all of us.

And it will happen one day.

But how quickly? The truth is that it may not happen within the lifetime of most of us. As a species we can be tremendously resistant to change, especially when we’re still making plenty of money out of fossil fuels.

The problem is that it may all be too little too late as far as climate change is concerned. And that’s the real concern.

Some Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About Renewable Energy!

Geothermal Renewable Energy

The need for more renewable energy was brought back into focus in the last few weeks. The climate change report that we’re running out of time managed to stay top of the news agenda, despite some hefty competition from other stories.

While there have been some setbacks in the last couple of years, however, the truth is that renewables are helping to change the world we live in. Many think that our green technology has indeed reached a tipping point and the dwindling number of fossil fuel addicts can do nothing to stop the new energy revolution.

Here are some little known facts that you may not know:

1. China is Wild About Wind

After years of ignoring it, China has finally got the renewable energy bug and have become the leading country in deployment and manufacture in the last 2 years. In fact, they’re so in love with wind, they’re erecting two turbines every hour.

2. Fossil Fuels Are More Subsidised Than Renewables

Some MPs in the current government complain that the problem with renewables is they need too much in the form of subsidies. They always miss out the inconvenient truth that fossil fuels have been subsidised a lot more than solar, wind and hydro power. All G20 nations together give four times more to coal, gas and oil.

3. More Jobs Are Created By Renewables

The other thing politicians tend to say is that we need to protect jobs created in the fossil fuels industry. The truth is that far more jobs (over 10 million worldwide as of 2017) are being created in the renewable industry.

4. Thermo-solar May Be The Future

Storing solar power for the evening has been a big issue but thermo-solar may be the key. The Gemasolar station in Spain uses molten salt to store heat and then uses that to drive turbines which create electricity 24/7.

5. The First Offshore Turbine Was Build 30 Years Ago

It’s now three decades since the first wind turbine was erected. The first was capable of producing just 30 kilowatts of power. Today’s modern turbines produce 6 MW, enough to power 6,000 homes. The total combined capacity of the world’s wind turbines as of the end of 2017 was 539,123 MW. Amazing.

6. 24/7 Solar Plants Do Actually Exist

Apart from the Spain Gemasolar station, there’s another 24/7 electricity producing solar plant in based in Nevada, USA. Crescent Dunes provides power for 75,000 homes for more than three hours at peak times and all through the day and night.

7. Geothermal District Heating is a Real Possibility in the UK

With all the work that seems to be going into fracking in the UK, most people don’t realise we also have some pretty great geothermal resources we could be taking advantage of. A quarter of us live in locations that may be suitable for geothermal technology.

8. The Internet is Greener Than You Think

Google, Facebook and Apple have all made big strides in creating an eco-friendly internet. In a recent report by Greenpeace, the tech giants topped the list of green companies. The good news is that the green badge is a good marketing tool for a whole range of businesses.

9. Iceland Gets All Its Power From Thermal and Hydro

Finally, Iceland may only have a small population but they get all of their power from thermal and hydro and are one of the most eco-friendly energy nations on the planet. In Paraguay, the Itaipu Dam provides over three quarters of the country’s electricity as well as a fifth of Brazil’s.

It’s possible to go full-on renewable and many countries are heading that way. We just need our governments and politicians to get on board.

The next time you think renewable energy in the UK and the rest of the world is stalling, take a look online to see what new innovations are changing the face of global power creation. Fossil fuels have indeed had their day.

What is Fossil Fuel Divestment?

Divest

With a lot of talk about the future of solar and wind, not to mention other renewables, we often forget that fossil fuels still form a significant part of our energy mix. Over 70% of households across the UK, for example, still use gas to heat their water and radiators.

The mayors of New York and London this week, collaborated in a Guardian Op-Ed to call on cities across the world to divest from fossil fuels.

But what does this actually mean?

It’s about not investing per se but pulling out of investment in companies that are associated with fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. This can include any investment, from pension schemes to stocks and shares, bonds and hedge funds. It’s a clean energy initiative that is currently being carried out by a number of different organisations and institutions including universities and local authorities.

Divestment is intended to send a clear message that fossil fuels are the past and that we should be moving more towards cleaner, renewable energy such as solar and wind. This approach has been used before, most notably to work against the tobacco industry. In the case of fossil fuel divestment the growing campaign has taken hold in recent years and is starting to seriously gather pace.

While governments have been slow to move in the divestment direction, other more prominent people have started to voice their opinions including the two mayors of London and New York. According to the op-ed, divestment is well under way in London:

“Already, less than 2% of the London Pension Fund Authority’s investments of £5.5bn ($7.1bn) are in extractive fossil fuels – this year, the authority has rid itself of a further £700,000 of fossil fuel investments, including stakes in Shell and BP, and has plans in place to divest its remaining investments.”

The reason for divestment is primarily to help save the planet but there’s also the potential financial risk of trillions of pounds still currently invested in fossil fuels. If we do manage to meet the demands of the climate change agreement and move to more renewable sources, these investments could well become almost totally worthless – that means there could be a pending economic crisis looming because so much money is currently tied up in them.

For divestment to truly work at the pace green energy activists want to see, it needs to be done by everyone. While public bodies like the mayor’s office can do their bit, private schemes and national companies also need to do theirs. That’s not always a priority, particularly here in the UK where businesses are more concerned about Brexit at the moment than climate change.

The good news is that it is starting to happen on quite a large scale. Recent reports that insurance firms are starting to divest their coal, oil and gas stocks is heartening. In July this year, Ireland voted to divest their fund over the next five years, while Norway has already put in measures to do the same. But there is still a long way to go.

The truth is that UK councils are still invested quite heavily in fossil fuels to the tune of £16 billion. While organisations such as Friends of the Earth are working to change this, individuals can help by contacting their local council to express their objections.

If we are serious about reversing the effects of climate change, we all need to do our bit. You can find out more about fossil fuel divestment here.

Poll Finds We Do Really Want Solar: So Why Is The Government So Against It?

houses of parliament

A recent poll discovered that 70% of us would decide to make our homes more energy efficient with technologies such as solar if there was help from the Government to do so.

Since the slashing of Feed in Tariff subsidies back in 2016, a lot has been written and said about the negative impact this has had on the solar industry in the UK.

So if people want it, why aren’t the current Tory government trying to provide it?

According to the poll:

  • 62% of people said they were happy to install solar.
  • 60% said they would have an electricity storage device like a battery in their property.
  • 70% said they would join a collective such as a community solar or wind project.

Nearly 70% of people also said that they would like to see the monopoly of the large utility companies weakened, allowing new suppliers who focus on clean energy to thrive.

Where Is The Government?

The Government seems more focused on large scale power schemes such as nuclear or off shore wind at the moment. Since tariffs were cut, home and community installations of solar have stalled dramatically even if we are still getting larger, commercial solar farms. The bad news is that any hope of accessing tariffs for solar will cease to altogether by early next year.

The poll results point to the undeniable fact that people are concerned about climate change and want to do their bit by having ecological technology installed. Solar panels have come down in price in recent years mainly because of the competition in the market place. Subsidies helped all that.

The Government’s lack of interest in solar, particularly on a domestic scale, is equally likely to have a huge impact on our ability to reach our climate change targets. According to MP Mary Creagh who is on the Environmental Audit Committee:

“Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry. But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.”

In fairness to the current Government, they did include reducing subsidies for renewables in their manifesto, citing that they wanted to reduce the cost to the tax payer. But if the taxpayer is willing to pay, what is the problem?

The fact the Government seems to be totally out of sync with current opinion, however, doesn’t appear to matter. The recent walk back on the tidal lagoon project in Swansea is a fairly unequivocal sign that the UK, through its Government, has definitely taken a step back when it comes to new renewable projects and the clean energy agenda.

There has always been a suspicion that the Tories have never been terribly attached to renewable energy. It goes back to David Cameron letting slip that we need to ‘get rid of that green crap’ back in 2013. It was only an almost unholy alliance with the Liberal Democrats that enabled any form of subsidy to continue in the first place. Once the Conservatives managed to get a majority you could sense a serious cooling to the idea of solar and wind and the imminent withdrawal of support.

There’s also another problem the industry has to face, one that has largely gone unreported. New solar and wind farms will now have to pay to connect to the grid where before this was free. That’s under new policies by the Government which allow network companies to charge even before any project has been agreed and rubber stamped.

While Labour may have plans to be more renewable energy friendly if they get in power, their strategy is not entirely clear, aside from taking snipes at the current Government when it suits them. According to MP Rebecca Long-Bailey:

“It was the Tories’ recent reforms that allowed for these outrageous financial demands to be made, which will have serious repercussions right across the renewables sector and for the future of clean energy.”

Don’t expect much support to given to the solar or wind industries for the foreseeable future. While climate change may well be the biggest challenge mankind has ever faced, everyone seems focused on more ‘immediate’ issues such as Brexit. We can only hope that, sooner or later, someone gets into power that can see sense.

Find out more about solar here.

Solar Is Making a ‘Comeback’ in the UK

Solar Storage

We’ve had one of the most prolonged hot weather spells globally, fires and droughts have been rife. Elon Musk seems to be undergoing his own personal mid-life crisis, Trump is on the verge of impeachment while rolling back the Clean Power Plan, fascism is on the rise and Brexit is turning out to be a major debacle.

You might be forgiven for thinking that the world is in meltdown. Carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy like solar seems to be the last thing on people’s minds. But is it really that bad?

The End of the World is Nigh: Or Is It?

The truth is that news outlets tend to focus on the bad rather than the good. It’s compounded a lot nowadays by social media where everyone seems to be shouting and screaming at each other and points of view have become polarised.

In actual fact, we live in an age where poverty is at it’s lowest point, teenage pregnancies have reduced dramatically, murder rates have dropped and we’re living healthier and longer lives. It’s easy to see why these good news stories don’t make it regularly into the media spotlight.

Let’s take a quick look at renewable energy and carbon emissions. The recent heat waves across the UK, Europe and America as well as many other parts of the world, led to a lot of doom mongering. Yes, it’s bad. Yes, it’s just another sign we are heading for a global warming catastrophe. But the world is not going to end tomorrow.

What you should be looking at are the remarkable changes we’ve made already over the last decade or so.

  • Anyone over the age of 40 will look out over the landscape today and recognise that it has altered dramatically. Off shore we have huge windfarms.
  • Drive around your local area and you will come across solar panels on rooftops and solar farms out in the country.
  • We all have recycle bins nowadays and religiously sort our paper and plastic for weekly collection.

Is Solar About To Become Self-Reliant?

We are biologically tuned to react more to bad news. That’s why we often have a skewed view of what is happening. Take the world of solar, for example. It’s generally accepted that the 2016 slashing of tariffs by the Tories damaged the solar industry and set it back almost irretrievably.

That’s true to a certain extent. The lowering of subsidies did have an impact.

But we ignore the fact that solar, as it has around many parts of the globe, has reached a tipping point. It’s cheaper to install than ever before and one project in the UK in particular may suggest that we reaching a place where large scale solar, at least, has enough to survive without subsidies.

Cleve Hill in Kent is set to deliver 350 MW across 1,000 acres if it goes through to completion. That would make it by far the biggest non-subsidised solar farm and it’s a project that is also going to include solar storage.

If you take into account the number of solar installations on farms and on the rooftops of homes and businesses, there are now nearly a million panels converting the light from the sun into electricity. Over the last decade, supply and demand has gone up and down, often in response to changes in subsidies. What the Cleve Hill installation shows is that solar is far from on its last legs – in fact, many experts believe this will lead to more solar farm projects getting the go ahead.

Combine that with wind and you can begin to see how the mix of renewable sources is already having a huge impact on our energy profile. As the Independent said recently:

“The UK has benefited this year from an unusually sunny summer. In June and early July, PV generation peaked at more than 9GW (gigawatts) each day for a week. At midday on Saturday 30 June, solar supplied 30 per cent of the national demand for electricity. If that day had also been windy then a further 30 per cent could have come from wind.”

6 Ways to Make Your Home Greener

Green Home

With all the furore over the last few weeks about how hot it’s been, lowering carbon emissions and going greener have been back on the news agenda. Fires both here in the UK and Europe as well as across the pond in America, show this is not an isolated incident.

The Independent reported this month that the Earth is in danger of falling into a ‘hot house’ state:

“Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, there is a chance human-induced global warming could trigger other processes which will lead to uncontrollable warming.”

While climate sceptics point to the heat wave of 1976 as evidence that this is just another hot spell, no more, the fact that high temperatures have been recorded virtually everywhere has worried many.

If you want to do something about global warming yourself, there are plenty of ways to make your life a bit greener.

Install Solar

Since the subsidy for solar was slashed back in 2016, there’s been a slowing down in the industry but solar is still the easiest way to reduce your carbon emissions and create green electricity. The Feed in Tariff subsidy is expected to finish completely next year so if you still want to get some payback for your installation, there’s time.

Installing a home solar system on your property has become a lot cheaper in the last decade and an array can last upwards of 20 to 24 years. All that time, you’ll be producing your own electricity and lowering the country’s carbon emissions. Combine your installation with battery storage and you might benefit even more.

Find out more about solar.

Swap to a Heat Pump

Heat pumps take normal air or warmth from the ground and turn it into heating for your home, basically via a reverse of the process similar to your traditional fridge freezer. The Government is providing incentives for low carbon and renewable heating solutions at the moment because they need to meet their targets on emissions.

That means you can get financial payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive, a subsidy that pays you for every kWh your produce. While heat pumps can be expensive to install, they are cheap to run and have low maintenance costs.

You can find out more about heat pumps on our main site.

Buy an Electric Car

We’re looking to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and all car manufactures are now working on hybrid or fully electric cars. This is a major change in the way we drive around, more so because we also need to put in place a huge charging infrastructure.

The Government is now offering incentives for those who buy an electric vehicle and have a power point installed in the home or business. It’s another way going green can actually pay.

Discover how electric cars get charged.

Switch to LED Lighting

Not all your green changes need to be expensive. The next three are relatively simple to achieve and should cost you very little pain in the pocket. Switching from CFL lighting to LED is a good choice and much better for the environment because these bulbs use less electricity. It’s something you can do one bulb at a time if you are short of cash. It might save a bit extra on your next utility bill too.

Find out about the benefits of switching to LED lighting.

Switch Your Energy Supplier

More and more competition in the energy market has led to the creation of companies that get the vast majority of their power from renewable sources, including solar and wind. If you want to make sure that the future is renewable, changing your supplier is important and sends the right message. It’s also very easy to do. And it can save you money.

Switching takes just a few minutes when you go online at USwitch.

Get a Smart Meter

Finally, the other smallish thing you can do, of course, is reduce the amount of electricity and gas you use. That’s a lot easier when you can closely monitor your consumption. Contact your energy company about fitting a smart meter and you can start making a difference to how much you use and how much you spend while also helping to save the planet.

In the meantime, switch off those lights when you aren’t using them and turn your thermostat down a degree or two.

Power Producing Raindrops: The Add-On For Solar That Could Actually Work

solar power rain

You might think it a little odd to be talking of rain when we’re still in the middle of the biggest heatwave since 1976. While most of us are trying to stay cool and our solar panels are working overtime like never before, rain is at the forefront of the mind of some scientists in China.

A little reported and potentially exciting development may well be on the cards. And it involves nanotechnology.

China, who have lead the way in solar over recent times, has started experimenting with panels that not only collect and transform the power of the sun but also have the ability to turn raindrops into electricity. Intrigued? While the research is in its early stages, many believe that the developing technology offers huge potential.

The problem with solar panels, as we all know, is that they only produce electricity when the sun is shining. Once night falls, they go to sleep. While most experts are waiting on the further development of storage batteries in order to partway solve the problem, there’s plenty of other innovation going on.

To understand how rain can turned into power, you first have to accept the existence of the triboelectric nanogenerator or TENG. Not the sort of thing that trips lightly off the tongue but it works in a similar way to kinetic energy sources that have been explored in the past, including paths that produce electricity as you walk on them.

Nanogenerators are useful because they are able to convert movement into electricity that can be used to power things. A team of researchers at Soochow University in China have managed to incorporate this TENG technology into some solar panels and published their findings in ACS Nano.

What they produced was a solar panel that is able to produce electricity when it’s sunny but which can also deliver an output while the rain is falling.

According to Science Alert recently:

“The next challenge is increasing the amount of electricity that can be generated to make this commercially viable. However, the concept has been proven, and that’s an important first step – harvesting even a small amount of electricity during a rain shower has to be better than harvesting nothing at all.”

As with many new developments, however, one big issue is going to be the cost. The technology hasn’t yet got to the stage where it can be mass produced for a low manufacturing price and sold commercially. That could take a while, at least a few years before we see these products on the market.

The next big development could well be solar panels that are able to provide power during rainy days. By then, we should have developed the battery technology that will allow us to store electricity overnight.

Find out more about having solar panels installed.

Feed In Tariff to End After Government Decision

FIT

With all the furore that’s been going on about Brexit and what exactly is going to happen next year when we leave the EU, you may be forgiven that it’s the only important news story out there.

For those interested in the development of solar energy and other renewable power, however, a stark admission by the Government at the end of last week certainly set a few heads in the renewables sector spinning.

The Feed in Tariff which has been responsible for getting homeowners and businesses to invest in solar panels will cease to exist for new customers from April next year. The announcement was largely lost in the milieu that has been created by the Government’s inept Brexit performance. It was hardly reported in the main stream media.

According to the Guardian last Thursday, the decision was laced with an extra kick in the gut for green activists and those who want to see cleaner, cheaper energy for their homes:

“The government’s announcement came on the same day that it launched a consultation to allow exploratory shale well gas wells to be built without planning permission.”

The History of the Feed In Tariff

The Feed in Tariff is a subsidy for those taking on renewable power sources such as solar panel and it pays a certain amount per kWh of energy produced. This means that homeowners and businesses can make a reasonably decent return on investment by getting regular payments. That was the case at least until the Government decided to slash the tariff rates back in 2016, something that also caused a stall in the solar market.

Since it began back in 2011, over 800,000 homeowners have taken the plunge to get solar panels installed on their roof tops. Those that already get access to the Feed in Tariff will not be affected by the change which is due to take place next year. And, to be fair, the demise of the FiT has been on the cards for some time.

What Next for Solar Power?

There’s no doubt that the decision by Greg Clark at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will have a major impact on smaller renewable companies and set the agenda for clean energy back a good deal. The fact that more credence has been given to fracking than solar has not been lost on many experts in the marketplace.

According to Emma Pinchbeck from Renewable UK:

“Today’s confirmation that there will be no replacement for the Feed-in Tariff is a major blow to small-scale renewables in the UK. The Government has known the FiT would be closing for three years and the fact that they are only now beginning the conversation about new policies is far too little, far too late for many companies.”

The Government has said that it is looking at how to support small scale renewables but what shape this takes is far from certain. In the meantime, those hoping to take advantage of the FiT scheme have until next April to get their solar panels installed.

The news about the FiT comes not long after the Government confirmed that it would not be supporting the proposed tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay. That’s despite a report produced in 2017 that said the lagoon would bring huge benefits and could be a very cost-effective way of generating electricity. It appears that Greg Clark and his department doesn’t see it that way. This may be disappointing but it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

What many people will see is a Government that is unwilling (and may never have been really willing) to support green, renewable energy initiatives. Better to go for nuclear power and large discredited fracking operations than making the case for ‘all that green crap’ as David Cameron once put it.

While Brexit fills the headlines, unfortunately, it has become even easier for the Government to get away with dismantling the clean power agenda. The surprising thing is that anyone has noticed at all.