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UK: Tories slashing and buring solar industry

Ah, you say, but surely new nuclear is the answer? No chance. The new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset was supposed to open in 2017. Now that has been pushed back to 2024 while its estimated cost is skyrocketing to £24bn and beyond.

If it is ever built, Hinkley will be by far the most expensive nuclear plant ever. And they are planning more. Future generations will not thank this government for loading them with high and ever-rising electricity prices to pay for their ridiculous new toys.

Undeterred by their nonsensical energy policy, the Conservatives now want to slash the support mechanism for roof-top solar, known as the feed-in tariff, by up to 87%.

Solar industry is being slashed and burned by the Tories http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2015/sep/09/solar-industry-is-being-slashed-and-burned-by-the-tories
Ashley Seager The government’s claim to be leading a solar revolution is a bad joke when it is instead pursuing ideological warfare against ‘green crap’ T
he government wasted no time after the election in killing the country’s onshore wind power sector and is now taking its wrecking ball to the solar industry, despite the call from the energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, only months ago for a “solar revolution”.

Rudd, Amber UKHer claim, repeated this week, that this is the greenest government ever, is a bad joke. The problem is that the Tories’ actions, far from pushing down electricity prices, will push them up. They are playing politics with our money. Why? Because they are culling cheap forms of renewable power, the costs of which are falling rapidly, in favour of ruinously expensive nuclear power, never-likely-to-happen fracking and schemes like the overpriced Swansea tidal lagoon, all of which will suck more money out of our wallets than onshore wind or solar ever could.

The reasons are purely political. The Conservatives perceive they lost rural votes to Ukip in the election because of the latter’s opposition to wind and solar farms.

Rudd and George Osborne have developed a narrative of expensive renewables requiring subsidies that are no longer affordable. Nonsense – the support going to solar and onshore wind has been in sharp decline for years, as the sectors have slashed costs to a competitive level. By contrast, the government’s preferred choices, particularly nuclear power, are horribly expensive and require far higher subsidies than wind or solar.

The Tories are in ideological warfare against the young, the poor, the BBC and “green crap”, as David Cameron calls it. Anyone who they suspect did not vote for them in May is in for it.

It is bizarre to throttle two energy sectors that were rapidly adding capacity at declining cost when National Grid is warning there will be very little spare capacity in the system this winter.

Ah, you say, but surely new nuclear is the answer? No chance. The new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset was supposed to open in 2017. Now that has been pushed back to 2024 while its estimated cost is skyrocketing to £24bn and beyond.

If it is ever built, Hinkley will be by far the most expensive nuclear plant ever. And they are planning more. Future generations will not thank this government for loading them with high and ever-rising electricity prices to pay for their ridiculous new toys.

Undeterred by their nonsensical energy policy, the Conservatives now want to slash the support mechanism for roof-top solar, known as the feed-in tariff, by up to 87%.

They are offering in future about 1p to 2p per kilowatt hour for solar power but are happy to pay 9.25p for the nuclear equivalent. In a recent interview, Rudd denied the cuts would kill the sector (they will), but carelessly said the 30,000 to 35,000 people in solar could just “find better jobs”. She has since denied saying that, but she would, wouldn’t she?

The problem is the supposedly independent report the government is justifying its actions on is full of bogus figures.

It simply is not credible when the government claims it is acting in the interests of consumers, when a recent report from the Competition and Markets Authority showed that households are still being overcharged an average of £160 each year by the country’s big six energy suppliers. And a recent International Monetary Fund report said every UK household ispaying £400 a year in fossil fuel subsidies.

Solar power will be the world’s cheapest form of power by 2025 and the biggest by 2050. Its costs have tumbled by 80% in the past five years. The Solar Trade Association (STA) has calculated that, even if the UK tripled its current solar capacity to a 25 gigawatt peak by 2020, that would only add £13.35 a year, or 1%, to the average electricity bill, a fraction of the £400 going to fossil fuels.

The STA said solar only needs support for another two years. Contrast that with Hinkley and its promised subsidy to 2060. And yet Britain is walking away from it. The government’s cynicism has reached a new low. They are using consumers’ money to buy votes in the next election, nothing more. Shame on them.

Ashley Seager is managing director of Sun4net Ltd. He was the Guardian’s economics correspondent for five years and left in 2010.

September 21, 2015 - Posted by | politics, UK

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