Bill Carmichael: Solar Panels Are A Badge Of Shame

Posted: November 25, 2011 by tallbloke in Energy, flames, Politics

Green subsidies work a bit like Robin Hood – but in reverse. They effectively take around £8bn from the poorest consumers in the country over the next 20 years and transfer the cash to well off people who can afford the capital costs of installing mini solar and wind power schemes.

OH the squeals of outrage this month when the Government announced a modest reform to one of the biggest green rip-offs this country has ever seen.

You may not have heard of Feed-in Tariffs (Fits), but if you are lucky enough to live in one of the posher parts of town, you’ve no doubt noticed your more well-heeled neighbours covering their roofs with solar panels.

The reason for the mad proliferation of solar panels, and to a lesser extent mini windmills, is that householders are being paid enormous subsidies to generate their own electricity.

The Fit scheme works a bit like Robin Hood – but in reverse. It effectively takes around £8bn from the poorest consumers in the country over the next 20 years and transfers the cash to well off people who can afford the capital costs of installing mini solar and wind power schemes.

The racket – for that is what it is – works like this; once householders have installed the solar panels, the power companies have to pay for the electricity they produce at a price more than six times the market rate, for a guaranteed period of 25 years.

The returns are so fantastic as to be far beyond the dreams of avarice.

Some solar panel installers were recently boasting that a £12,000 solar panel system would pay for itself in little more than ten years and produce total returns over the life of the scheme of £25,000.

Certainly, as an investment it promises to produce profits far in excess of anything the banks, building societies or stock market could offer – all entirely risk free, tax free and index linked against inflation.

Great if you can afford it. But what if you can’t? Well, tough!

Consumers, including the very poorest, are expected to pay for this outrageous handout to the wealthy by way of a hidden “green” tax on their fuel bills – about £13 a year on the average electricity bill.

Not surprisingly since the subsidy bonanza started in April last year, those lucky enough to have substantial sums in the bank have been climbing over each other to get their snouts in the trough.

Around 80,000 householders have taken advantage of the subsidies including Jude Law, Gary Neville and Mick Jagger, who have all installed solar panels on their multi-million pound homes.

Alarmed at the escalating cost, the Government has now announced the Fit subsidies are to be cut by half – hence the bleats of complaint from everyone from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to solar panel installation companies and the CBI. But if solar power is as cheap and efficient as the environmental groups pretend it is, then it shouldn’t need any subsidy at all.

But this isn’t just poor politics and stupid economics – it is morally wrong, too.

For a government to take money from a freezing pensioner in order to give it to someone as rich as Mick Jagger, is nothing short of wicked.

Until the subsidy is scrapped entirely having solar panels on your roof should be seen as a badge of shame.

These people aren’t “green” – just greedy.

  1. Chad says:

    You are right on with this. I am amazed at the blatant level of corruption our current governmental bodies are perpetrating. When will the madness end?

  2. tallbloke says:

    Chad, It’ll continue until we kick the politicians backsides. While they believe they can get away with it, nothing will change. This one was started by labour and continued by the tories with the connivance of the lib dems, whose leader’s wife is doing very nicely thankyou on the board of a Spanish wind farm company.

    You couldn’t make it up.

    We just sit and whinge, they laugh up their sleeves at us and carry on screwing more tax money based on bullsh1t from us. Eventually, there will be a backlash, bigger than the riots last year I would anticipate.

    A wry look at this weeks climate related stuff:

  3. Hi Tallbloke – thanks for the mention.
    If you or your readers would be interested in seeing some more of my stuff you can find it at
    Incidentally, in the text my name is spelt as “Charmichael” – a surprisingly common error. It must be because I am so charming!
    Best wishes
    Bill Carmichael

  4. Scute says:

    I agree entirely. In one leafy street where I work there are five houses out of fifteen that have jumped on the bandwagon. I thought they were just doing their bit for the environment because they had the money to do so. Then my customer did the same and as he gushed about the truly staggering benefits (over the din of the installers who had moved onto next door’s roof), I thought “heads will roll”- it’s just so crazily generous that there will be a massive backlash at some point down the line. Another customer who has shelved his project due to the halving of the rate, says that a friend who is an installer is earning £4000 for a day’s work, such is the demand (materials plus two helpers for one day comes to 8k; going price 12k). The punters only pay this because the returns still make it worthwhile but I, in my studio flat, am paying for excess profits to the tune of 2-3k, as well as the dodgy scheme itself.

  5. Richard111 says:

    tallbloke writes: “It’ll continue until we kick the politicians backsides.”

    I write to my MP and he doesn’t even bother to answer. What to do?

  6. tallbloke says:

    Bill, welcome, and thanks for dropping by. Name corrected, link included. I’ll swing by your blog for a read soon.

    Richard III, If you write to an MP, and say in your letter, “I look forward to receiving your reply regarding this matter” at the bottom, they have an obligation. If they fail to reply within a reasonable timescale, you can then take the matter further. Have a look at this site:

    I would wait outside their surgery, and kick their arse (verbally at least) if I got the chance. Failing to reply to a constituent is just plain rude.

  7. Roger Andrews says:

    My neighbor has solar panels on his roof. They cost him $10,000 and they save him $100/month in power costs, so he will get his money back in 8 years. Not a bad return on investment.

    How does he get such a high rate of return on an unsubsidized solar installation? Partly because we get a lot of sun at latitude 20 north and 1500m elevation, but mostly because electricity here in Mexico, courtesy of the government, costs about 20 UK pence/kilowatt hour.

    So if you blokes on the other side of the pond don’t like solar subsidies all you need do is copy Mexico and tax electric power to the point where solar is economic. I don’t know where the threshold would be for the damp & gloomy British climate, but somewhere around 50p/kwh should do the trick.

    And with all the extra tax money your government could then do even more to improve your quality of life. 😉

  8. adolfogiurfa says:

    It would be good to see those panels UNDER THE SNOW 🙂

  9. adolfogiurfa says:

    It seems that its low efficiency comes from the fact that they have no connection to ground. See Nikola Tesla´s patent:

    Click to access tesla_patent.pdf

  10. manicbeancounter says:

    One little point I would add is that the feed in tariffs are index-linked, and they are non-taxable. As an investment it therefore makes more sense for higher-rate taxpayers. Pay-back is typically eight years.

    For those with larger estates, with a river running through it there is hydro power. Local to me in South Manchester a green group is planning to install a hydro scheme on the River Mersey. Pay-back in 9 years, NPV = 0 at 13% discount rate, and probably a national award for saving the planet as well.

  11. Richard111 says:

    @tallbloke 25, 1:08pm

    Thanks for the tip.