[ExI] Solar power makes UK people poorer

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Wed Jun 8 15:35:47 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jun 08, 2011 at 08:18:47AM -0700, spike wrote:

> Hi BillK, no one ever promised green would be cheap.

GE thinks solar PV will be the cheapest form of energy
(wind is already cheaper than new nuclear) in 5 years


GE is typically clueless, so that doesn't necessarily mean much.
> Clearly England isn't a good place for ground based solar.  I hear it rains

There's a widespread misconception that photovoltaics needs
direct sunlight, and produces nothing under cloud cover. 
Thin-film does fine with diffuse light, actually.

> a lot there.  800 kWh per kWp is way below the economic threshold by my
> BOTECs.  I have an Oregon property with twice that insolation, but it is
> still marginal for rooftop solar, probably still a no-go.

Keep checking back every couple years as new prices and new
technology come in.
> My main criticism of the Register article is that it gets too tangled up in
> issues that are actually a completely different problem.  Government
> subsidies on solar are making the rich richer and the poor poorer.  Sure,
> but clear away the clutter and look at it this way: does rooftop solar pay?
> Yes or no.  If no, don't install it.  Is the government subsidizing solar

Markets deal very poorly with long-term planning. They didn't anticipate
peak fossil. In practice FITs do help with market bootstrap, see Germany.

> installations that do not pay?  If yes, vote them out.  Get a government
> which understands energy economics.

In practice voters are clueless, and politicians pass the best laws
money can buy. In fact, special interest groups actually write the laws
themselves, and have them passed.

Now, let me tell you about how sausages are made...

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