06 Jan 2011
While I fully support the use of solar in this way, lets make sure that the priority for funds ie FITs remain in first supporting solar on existing relevant south facing roofs. Why? We are making use of an existing installation which needs at most a few bolts and struts to secure the panels. The additional cabling is minimal and the inverter is often of a similar scale in terms of resources used as a medium sized television. The majority of the electricity is used immediately local to the point of generation and thus has minimal transmission losses. Solar farms require significant additional investment of reources, most likely multiple concrete bases, industrial sized cabling and export of teh generated electricity to the grid with resultant losses due to transmission losses, both losses over a distance and losses due to voltage changes.
So, yes to solar farms but never at the expense of the consumers roof mounted system. Remember, they are the ones ultimately paying for it!
06 Jan 2011
I totally agree with Simon with an important extra point:
Although the article points our that the workforce will be predominantly 'local', which is great, the investment that will benefit from the FIT over the next 25 years will most certainly be coming from a variety of non-local funding mechanisms, most likely city of foreign investment. After the first years construction there are not large numbers of jobs created, operation and maintenance on these systems are minimal. All the benefits get diverted away from the area to the pockets of the money men who financed the deal. This is not what the FIT was designed for. The FIT should promote distributed energy generation but also support distributed wealth generation.
We are each worth thousands of pounds a year in terms of the energy we pay for. We need to some how mobilise that cash and each get more involved in distributed energy generation.
This 5MW station will generate in the region of 4,500 MWh a year. That's enough to power roughly 1000 homes. Considering that per household we current spend around £650 a year (and this will dramatically increase over the lifetime of this solar farm) If we could mobilise 10 years worth of electricity payments upfront for that 1000 homes, they could own half of the plant and benefit from half of the FIT annual payments. This interestingly works out at over £650 a year INCOME per household.
I'm all for solar farms but they need to benefit the local community in the LONG TERM not just in the first year construction. I know that I have over simplified the numbers here but this is the kind of thinking we need to make sure the FIT is used to benefit the country.
Roger Hollies Save & Generate.
07 Jan 2011
Large scale solar needs to be a significant part of the energy mix, I do agree with the previous comments with regards rooftops, every suitable roof should be covered with PV it's a no brainer on many levels, but, there needs to be a better funding mechanism for residential systems as most homeowners cannot afford to pay for a reasonable sized system despite the fact that these systems will deliver excellent rates of return.
Two things to remember about large scale PV and the UK economy
1 - HMRC will receive a significant amount of tax income from PV arrays
2 - Most large arrays will eventually be owned by UK based pension funds. So in the first instance it is true that city money men, european contractors and Far Eastern manufacturers will make a large profit, but in the mid to long term many of us who pay into and will come to rely on our pensions will benefit from such a bankable, low risk, technological investment.
17 Jan 2011
We are not sure as to what is trying to be said in the article and in the comments so here are a different read on the issue, but first some salient questions.
1] What is the area of the Solar Panels proposed? (The various publicity statements do not make any real announcements about this and it would be very useful to gauge this for land use occupancy.)
2] With Solar Panels generally working during day-light hours what is going to be done during the outside hours?
3] Do you mean 5MVA? (The 5MW seems to be an error.)
We have all seen the idea of FIT (Feed In Tariffs) being used to promote such facilities as these before and there is great concern over the abuse being made over claiming for these and the self-certification calculations on same. I do agree though that on a project like this the quality of over-sight will be easier to view than some of the other "so-called" renewable energy projects paraded through the industry and that has a lot going for it.
The calculations offered "albeit tongue-in-cheek" I assume (?) by Mr R Hollies places before the potential purchasers a pay back period that appears to be (or optimistically may be) 20 years! As an investment that isn't very attractive. As IRRs of 45% and over are common-place in the Renewable Biomass to (BioEthanol) Fuels industry where the reliance on subsidies is not that much of an issue this I question is an issue of concern. It affects the "house-holder" who thinks that he could benefit from installing such programmes.
We are currently looking at Ultra - Thin - Film Photovoltaic films (applied as paint) to surfaces instead of traditional protective paints. These are a real alternative to panelled Photovoltaic installations and they hold out a much greater and wider application to existing structures and buildings than this style of project.
Such an application could be applied to a Dam walls or Bridges or any Building (Football Stadia, Airport Canopies, Corporate Buildings, or any other Structure either retrofitted or New - even the Olympic Park in East London could be used for same - it is not too late!) and collectively these could produce very large quantities of electricity.
The time has come to look beyond the rigid panel and move onwards.
08 Feb 2011
WHY LARGER-SCALE SOLAR FARMS ARE LESS EXPENSIVE AND SHOULD BE SUPPORTED
• The FIT subsidy is 41.3p/kWh for domestic installations v.s. 29.3p/kWh for larger installations – therefore for every unit of energy produced, domestic PV costs almost 30% more than commercial-scale PV. As the FIT budget is capped, incentivising smaller more expensive PV would result in up to 30% less PV installed than if the focus was commercial scale PV. We don’t recommend changing any PV tariffs, large or small, but if the purpose really is to improve efficiency, penalising the most efficient subsidies which deliver more renewable solar energy per pound spent, will not help us to meet our 2020 targets!
• A focus on only small-scale installations will prevent the reduction in prices delivered by economies-of-scale offered by deploying larger systems, ensuring that prices stay higher for longer (forcing subsidies to remain for longer).
• International inward-investment opportunities will be significantly reduced if the UK is no longer perceived as an interesting (and safe) market for PV/renewable energy investment. This will happen if the maximum size PV plant eligible for the FIT is 50kW.
• Countless UK Green jobs will be lost if mid-scale PV is significantly penalised.
• World-leading international UK Solar PV companies (such as the very successful German PV companies currently setting up joint venture companies in the UK) will fail to develop in the UK without the market conditions offered by mid-scale PV opportunities. This will also prevent any meaningful solar PV export businesses developing in the UK.
• North sea oil and gas is declining sharply, and globally fossil fuels are becoming increasingly expensive. Over the useful life of a PV power plant (can be up to 50 years), PV is a low cost option, and is insurance against rising fossil fuel prices.
• Solar PV provides reliable low carbon decentralised power to local areas. Even in low-light conditions this technology can be 100% relied upon (v.s. other more intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind power which is not reliable on a daily basis).
• Mid-scale PV reduces the requirement for fossil-fuel derived electricity on the grid in high demand daylight hours, reducing carbon emissions and also preventing the need for additional spinning reserve capacity.
• Mid-scale PV does not require costly, and lengthy enhancements to the grid-infrastructure in order to be deployed, hence lower costs and much faster implementation.
• FIT legislation has been created to help the UK meet its 2020 commitments. Favouring less expensive (mid-scale) installations will ensure that the UK’s solar PV contribution towards the 2020 target is maximised.
• The UK is currently forecasting brownouts by 2016 (only 5 years away). Solar PV is one of the fastest-to-deploy renewable energy technologies which in conjunction with energy efficiency has the potential to significantly contribute to our energy security challenges. Every 5MWp Solar farm can produce enough electricity for up to 500 homes per year, or the baseload energy for over 3000 homes in daylight hours.
• The FIT is the only mechanism driving the adoption of mid-scale PV in the UK. If this is changed, there is no other policy that will continue the development of mid-scale PV. This is completely at odds with global policy such as the recently introduced US DOE Sunshot initiative www.eere.energy.gov/sunshot, designed to drive down prices to grid-parity and rebuild the US as the dominant force in the PV industry. We can also make this happen in the UK, but not if the FIT policy for mid-scale PV is changed.
• The UK needs Green Growth – in the UK Solar Sector growth is abundant – the policies work so please don’t change them and destroy the seed of what is currently destined to become the next big UK success story!