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18 May, 2010

Solar Power - For the Rich, the rest of us pay?

The local rag this week had what looked like an article but was actually an advert, its title was New Energy Stream" and went on to tell me how I could earn money and get free electricity.
We all know nothing in life is free so I read on, then did research of my own.

Its about the latest fad in Solar panels for your home, I'll disregard the fact that they are an eyesore for your neighbours and one of the least efficient ways of generating electricity you can use in the UK and see what the benefits are.

I was completely shocked, get the pun, OK, it seems that if you have the odd £10,000+ laying around doing nothing you can cover your house roof with black panels and maybe on a good day generate only 40% of your energy needs, well in the daytime in mid summer and so long as you don't cook or heat by electricity. So remember your still paying full price for 60% of your electricity.

The amazing thing about this scheme is that you get 41.3pence from your electricity provider for every unit you generate, plus an extra amount of money for any electricity you sell back to the grid, which in fact in most homes is going to be a very very very small amount unless you have covered every inch of the place in solar panels spending £20 - 30K

Where is this 41.3 pence coming from? That's easy, everyone of us who has not got the £10k to spend on buying solar panels is going to pay more for our electricity. Now that sounds fair doesn't it. Just like a lot of things the Labour party stitched us up with, oops I got political again.

But it doesn't end there, because the amount being paid to you to generate your own power was set way too high there are already scams going on with people connecting small diesel generators to their generation systems because they can generate electricity with conventional means for way less than they get paid for their units. It is also apparently worth while setting up arc lights on your roof and running them at night and your still quids in, its apparently been done.

Remember, all this is being paid for by those of us who don't have £10k to throw away.
Remember too that once you have installed the panels you lose out if you decide to move house as your unlikely to get the full price back on your sale, although you could take them with you I am sure it would only cost a few thousand to remove and re-install.

Finally there is the problem with the calculations being made by the people trying to sell you solar panels. They say that as a top rate tax payer your return is equal to 12% PA. No its not, for the first 10-15 years I'd be paying off the installation costs. And if it were interest on my money I wanted you have to consider compound interest whereby £10k in the bank at even just 3% will be £15,579 in 15 years.
If your solar panels are running at maximum, (remember the winter this year) you are expected to save £625 a year, which by my maths means its 16yrs before you break even.

The solution is easier, rather than covering the world in expensive black panels, build nuclear power stations or loads of coal fired ones. We all know coal produces way less pollution than a certain volcano is doing, and as is being proved by Tony Robinson in the series Man on Earth, our CO2 has nothing to do with climate change.

If on the other hand you have £10k to throw away stick it in the bank and in 15yrs time look forward to at least 10yrs completely free electricity.

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