Solar Panels – Again

I blogged about solar panels a few weeks ago (Click HERE to refresh yourselves. I asked if having Cornwall covered in them would be a price worth paying. I am personally not convinced due to a few reasons. Before I go into why not, please click HERE to read the report from today’s Cabinet meeting on Kernow Solar Park. It makes for some interesting reading as to why Cornwall Council really wants to get into this market.

The first thing I noticed is that Cornwall Council is going to have to borrow £14 million to fund this. It was £10 million, but that had to be re-address due to some figures not adding up. There is nothing wrong with borrowing £14 million if its going to make you more money in the end. That’s a good decision. The point is will it?

In the report that this farm will make £400k per year. Considering the life is 25 years, that makes a £10 million profit over this period. I pointed out that there is a difference between the expenditure and profit of £4 million. I was told that this was covered, but I am not sure where or how, unless I missed something. It’s only when you look closely at these figures is that the whole costing is based on a rather large and generous subsidy from the Government. This is 28.7 pence per unit and is near 3 times what the the average domestic consumer is paying at 10-12 pence per unit.

So the Government is paying more out of our Taxes to support this. It could get worse as if the Government re-looks at this generous tariff and reduces it, then the whole project does not work. If this does happen, then I was told we (as in Cornwall Council) will re-look at this plan. I asked if this tariff was cut in the review, then why spend the time and resources in getting this project this far? I was then told that this has to be all up and running before March 2012 to be locked into this generous tariff. As once in this tariff it’s locked for 25 years and is unable to be amended. (I am sure some smart lawyer on the Government pay-role could indeed find some clause to change it).

So you can see why Cornwall Council would like as many of these as possible as they really are a cash cow. The old saying robbing Peter to pay Paul never rung so true. As the government gives with one hand, you can bet it has a larger hand waiting to collect it back.

There is no getting away that we have to reduce our carbon footprint, and if there are enough of these Cornwall Council could be an energy supplier. But I am not sure if the people of Cornwall would benefit with cheaper electricity for having fields of panels in place of farmland.  Maybe someone thinks differently and thinks having more is a price worth paying. I mean what do I know, I am just a Councillor.


  • Art of the Possible

    There's also the issue that – if you stick solar panels all over your farmland – then where are you going to grow your food?

    With 7 billion hungry mouths already, and if present trends continue then 9 billion within the lifetime of these panels, as well as oil probably getting scarcer and more expensive, food will certainly not stay at the quite low prices it is now.

    Importing our food most likely will not be option in future.

  • Gavin Lang

    Why must the panel take up valuable farmland, people already complain about polytunnels and fields full of agrifleece.

    Surely they could be erected on the roofs of council buildings, large commercial properties and industrial estates. I am sure the large supermarket chains would leap at the chance to advertise there 'Green' credentials.

  • Edward

    To build your own panels, knowledge about the different solar cells is a requisite. Two types of solar cells are readily available.

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  • Thesolar

    Solar panels being used for many years now, but cost of production to have own solar powered generator at your own home typically very high but the efficiency low, making them largely ineffective source of energy.

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