Ed Hoskins: Incredible waste on solar installation knowingly overseen by defunct DECC

Posted: August 21, 2016 by tallbloke in Big Green, Energy, government, Incompetence

Solar-Loaf-600-AEAEd Hoskins has sent me a summary of his latest post on ‘green energy’ profligacy, which well worth a click and read.

It seems that the UK with the least performant solar energy environment  in Europe has allowed to be invested about £30 billion with an output of less than 1 GW as and when the sun shines.

This amounted to a total of about   9.6GW nameplate solar installations yielding the equivalent of about 0.9GW of power, but only when the sun shines.  The capacity factor for Solar energy in the UK is only ~9%.  This is the least performant solar power in the whole of Europe.

Even though according to David Mackay DECC well understood that solar energy should never have been considered viable in the UK, the department still oversaw these huge continued expenditures and dispensed with about £19,000,000,000 in 2014 and 2015.  That amounted to more than the full cost of Hinckley Point C:  the wasted expenditure seems never to have been questioned or discussed.


The point about DECC understanding the uselessness of UK Solar is at minute 16+


The full amount of ~£30,000,000,000 cumulative expenditure on Solar energy is never stated explicitly because the full sum is well disguised.  The sum is subsumed in subsidies, overcharged electricity bills, feed-in tariffs and other government mandated CO2 reduction support mechanisms.

According to EurobserER recorded data and costed using to US  EAI comparative capital cost data, the UK recently increased its Solar installations massively:

  • in 2014 from 2,782MW to 5,230MW an increase of +88%  equivalent to ~£9,500,000,000
  • in 2015 from 5,379MW to 8,917MW a further increase of +65%. equivalent to ~£11,400,000,000

These were the most rapid growth rates for Solar installation throughout Europe.

Using US EIA data of overnight capital costs for comparison, the total capital cost of solar installations has amounted to about £30,000,000,000 and just recently in 2014 and 2015 the UK committed some £19,000,000,000 to Solar energy installations.

Using the same US  EIA comparative figures, this £30,000,000,000 capital investment could have provided

  • ~40.0 Gigawatts of gas-fired installations at 87% capacity
  • ~6.5 Gigawatts of Nuclear generation at 90% capacity

Whilst the costs of Hinckley Point C, (at ~£18billion), are much discussed and now even questioned by government as to viability, the much greater and less productive sum expended to contribute less than 1 Gigawatt of power from UK Solar installations has been ignored.  This significant sum has essentially been wasted at the expense of the British taxpayer and British electricity buyer.

The outcome of the following analyses fully justifies David Mackay’s assertions of “delusion” and non viability with comparative cost effectiveness calculations.

  • solar power in the UK is about 41 times less cost effective than gas-fired power.
  • wind power overall is about 11 times less effective than gas-fired power.
  • coal firing is about 3 times less cost effective than gas-fired power.

Although this is a  trivial calculation I think that this is very much in the vein of the late David Mackay’s back of the envelope calculations

  1. Curious George says:

    They should build beach resorts on palm studded coral beaches of Scotland.

  2. Jim says:

    Completely unacceptable! It takes 1.21 GW just to power the flux capacitor and the DeLorean still needs gas to reach 88mph!

  3. oldbrew says:

    ‘solar power in the UK is about 41 times less cost effective than gas-fired power’

    …and probably about 41 times less reliable too, especially in winter.

  4. oldbrew says:

    George: this pic was taken on the Isle of Arran off Scotland’s west coast 🙂

  5. oldbrew says:

    SunEdison death spiral? Solar power is not the business to be in it seems.

    ‘Obama-Backed Solar Company Goes On The Auction Block’

    ‘The auction sales will likely fall $1 billion short of the amount the company needs to cover its debt, according to Bernstein. The judge called SunEdison “hopelessly insolvent” during a court appearance Aug. 12.’

  6. Tenuk says:

    That this would be the case was known before the first solar panel was installed. Solar PV only just starts to make sense for isolated off-grid communities at latitudes <40 – latitude London ~51. I expect if the government ever allowed this profligate waste of tax-payers money to be investigated the super-rich elite buddies will have creamed £billions from this scam.

  7. dscott says:

    What you politely describe as wasteful is in reality corruption (green profiteering) between greedy corporatists and politicians using the AGW canard. Is it any wonder that the politicians in your country want to ban fracking to produce natural gas? They would rather collect the campaign contributions of the green profiteers and allow any European to be beholding to Russia’s natural gas. How did that work out for the Ukrainians?

    You will find that corruption and incompetence are two sides of the same coin, found on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Unlike the Greens and Socialists, we Capitalists have a vested interest in our customers surviving the winter. We like repeat customers. It is a shame so many of your senior citizens have died of freezing in their very homes during the winters. When a Green or Socialist cares, you die, when a Capitalist cares, you live another day, we call that a sustainable business model… Natural Gas is relatively cheap and very clean burning. If you won’t produce your own then at least buy ours. 🙂

    Socialism in all its forms (including Communism and Green) caused the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th Century, when will you learn? If you question the Green effect, then why did 30 million people die in Africa due to malaria? The Greens helped ban DDT.

  8. dryscottdale says:

    The farmer’s manure spreaders actually create a lot of energy especially when Emma Thompson is having a bake sale at a Greenpeace rally on Farmer’s private property……. God….. Is she stupid or what?

  9. oldbrew says:

    ‘Last resort’ power plan scrapped as businesses decline to cut their usage

    UK electricity policy continues to crumble into farce.

  10. dennisambler says:

    This guy has made a fortune out of solar:



    In 1993, as Scientific Director for Greenpeace, he produced this seminal document:

    Click to access leggett-insurance-climate.pdf

    From 23 years ago, we read:

    “The threat posed by the human-enhanced greenhouse effect to economies and ecosystems has led to more than 150 governments signing a Climate Convention setting the international community on track for limitation of greenhouse-gas emissions to the atmosphere.

    The world’s major climate-forecasting centres now predict that if current rates of greenhouse-gas emission are maintained, dangerous rates of warming – unprecedented during human history – will occur in the decades ahead.

    Furthermore, there are worrying indications that some of the kinds of climatic phenomena to be expected if these forecasts are correct may already be occurring. 1990 was the hottest year since records began more than a century ago.

    1991 was the second hottest, despite the significant cooling effect of the Mt Pinatubo eruption. The seven hottest years have all been since 1980.

    Coral reefs are beginning to bleach and die, in waters of unprecedented warmth in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian oceans.

    Hurricanes of record strength are hitting the Caribbean. Cyclones of record strength are hitting the Pacific.

    Anomalously intense droughts have struck southern Africa, northern Brazil, California, SE England, and other places.”

    All sounds a little familiar……..they just change the dates.

  11. oldbrew says:

    The next gimmick: a solar roof.

    Usually, solar companies install solar panels on roofs but Elon Musk offers an entirely different and ingenious approach, – one which integrates photovoltaic material directly into a roof: solar shingles. “It’s not a thing on the roof,” the South African, American and Canadian entrepreneur says. “It is the roof.”