When we first embarked on the huge task of saving the planet, few of us realised the impact new technologies such as solar would have. The truth is, most governments thought the renewables industry would be a failure. Now, with the growing potential to store our own solar produced electricity, are the powers that be getting cold feet?
There’s been much in the news recently about the cuts in the Feed in Tariff which many predict will have a catastrophic effect on the solar industry. It seems the Tories have called time on the renewables industry much to the chagrin of those in favour of clean energy. But could a solution be just around the corner?
Here’s a scenario that the utility companies, and indeed the current government may not particularly like: What if we all had solar panels on our roofs and a system to collect the electricity we generate ourselves and store it? We don’t buy our power off a third party – we actually create our own and become energy independent. What if we don’t need to pay those energy companies a penny for our electricity? All we need is the right infrastructure at home.
The Companies Leading the Way
Earlier this year Tesla shook the renewables industry with news of their solar storage battery and how it could revolutionise how we view electricity production. Other manufacturers have lately come out with their own models of the battery, including Samsung, with a number of installers now offering a hybrid solar panel and storage mix to new and existing customers. With the Feed in Tariff under threat, which has largely been responsible for the uptake of solar technology, this could present a significant change in how the solar industry operates and perhaps even save it in the UK.
The Cost of Storage
Tesla initially announced the cost of its solar storage battery at around £10,000 but recent developments and competition has brought this down considerably to around £2,000 for a 7-10 kW battery. Weighing in at around 100 Kg the Powerwall is certainly a hefty piece of kit and takes up a decent amount of space but it could provide you with the power you need when the sun isn’t shining. With other players now getting into the market, expect prices to fall some more in the future.
A Two Tier Energy Country
Of course there is a problem with this energy independent scenario. As things stand currently, those with the money to install solar panels and the new range of batteries will be able to afford it. That means those on low incomes will be left behind creating a two tier system that is untenable for a large part of the population. It also means that the way current policies work, the Government is asking utility companies to take an active part in their own demise by helping people on lower incomes to become more energy independent.
Here’s how the Government solves the problem: We put the brakes on and stifle the renewables industry. We cut tariffs and other subsidies and making it difficult for the industry to expand any more.
Why the Government Really Doesn’t Like It
Let’s face it, the Government gets a good deal of tax revenue from the utility companies and if we all rush off and become independent they are going to lose a lot of money. There’s always been an elephant in the room where renewables are concerned. If you give people the way to produce their own electricity then where is the need for big, multinational companies? Why do we need a national grid when regions, towns and cities can put in the infrastructure to produce their own power?
We can now produce our own power. The technology is available. And what’s more we can make the world a better place whilst we do it. Yes, there are still a few more miles to travel but we’re getting there. Most world governments really didn’t expect the renewables industry to take off the way it has. Call it being short-sighted, call it a lack of understanding, but most people in the power industry were not prepared for those renewable fanatics to actually deliver.
The Future of Renewables at Stake
The renewables project is undoubtedly facing its biggest challenge in the UK, particularly when it comes to solar. With the Government backtracking on not only its international commitment but its moral one, we have approached a tipping point. Recent research has shown that wind power is now the most economical form of energy but subsidies have been removed in the name of progress by a group of misinformed politicians who are more concerned about votes – pandering to that part of the electorate who wouldn’t know their twin turbine from their hydroelectric plant.
Over the last couple of years the renewables industry has started to surge forward. To turn back now is a travesty and something this Government may well be remembered for. This is an ongoing project, one that is beginning to produce tangible benefits to the UK and across the globe. If we want a truly independent energy infrastructure that benefits everyone, not just the big companies, we need to keep supporting it.
That means keeping Feed in Tariff subsidies but it also means becoming an international lead in developing storage technologies for solar power that push the boundaries. We have several powerhouse universities that can help to develop this technology further. Perhaps rather than ploughing so much money into subsidies for fossil fuels we should be betting on a cleaner and greener future.
Learn more here about Batteries for Solar Panels
By Steven M.