Saturday, 16 June 2012

Revitalise the Solar industry.

 Chris has sent in the following: June 2012

Never mind printing money and offering banks ever more incentives to lend to households and companies. Infrastructure investment is the only way forward. How to do this? One way is to nationalise all the banks in order to direct lending into private infrastructure projects. That's not going to happen though. Another - and arguably a better one - would be to revitalise the Solar industry as follows:

A.    Offer homeowners up to half the cost (up to a fixed amount) as a grant towards installing a British or EU manufactured solar panel system (I.e. German, Norwegian, etc) on the roof. The homeowner has to find the other half either from own funds or borrowing from the bank. Tariffs paid to roof installation owners must continue for at least 20 years from installation degrading annually on a sliding scale from the current 21p per unit but index-linked. The tariff payable would be based on the grant paid. I.e. only 75% of the tariff paid if a 25% grant, only 50% paid if a 50% grant etc.

B.    Offer not-for-profit social/public housing rental agencies (council housing and housing associations) interest-free loans for the entire solar panel installation cost, up to a fixed amount and repayable over a fixed period. Tariffs paid to roof rental owners (the taxpayer owned social housing agencies) must continue for at least 20 years from installation degrading annually on a sliding scale from the current 21p per unit but index-linked. 


1. The installation industry is maintained and expanded. (The risks to the 30,000 jobs created by Labour’s scheme that came in after April 2010 but which the Tory-led coalition have progressively dismantled and cut since Dec 2011 would be reversed. Whilst Labour ‘did not fix the roof whilst the sun shone’ it did fix the roofs after the 2008 crash. But look what has happened through post-coalition cuts to the FiT scheme: the solar industry is now in recession.)

2. Costs would not rise. (As only half the cost is paid by the public purse. Costs are reducing anyway as panel costs come down.)

3. The disincentives since inception of the scheme in 2010 are the capital costs involved. These would be reversed. (In the private home-owner sector only those with a pension lump sum or other significant savings can afford to take this path. The capital costs if wholly borrowed in a bank loan are often too great.)

4. Rental agencies would not repay the loans they were given from the taxpayer via the £200-£300 fuel savings the householder makes each year, the householder gets that! The rental agencies would repay the loans from the tariff payments they receive via the fuel companies. The system could be front-loaded so that the public loans they had received were repaid within 10 years but tariff incentives would continue to be received by rental agencies for 20 years... 

5. In the public rented sector families experiencing fuel poverty would benefit from the annual electricity savings and would be more energy conscious.

6. The scheme would assist EU countries including Britain (not China).

7. Roofs with solar panels can save householders £200-300 or more each year on electricity costs and also become more energy conscious and efficient. (This does not make the Big Six energy giants happy – they are in it to make profits not encourage savings.)

8. Over time a re-installation industry will develop and expand. (In ten years there will be more efficient models on stream, as older installations decrease in efficiency over 30 years, they will replace old with new.)

9. The developing industry in saving energy generated during the day in batteries so that that energy may be used at night would be encouraged to a greater degree than at present. 

10. Solar makes sense. (It involves each household in making energy savings, it is essentially a renewable fuel, it also meets the carbon reduction targets and reduces reliance on foreign fuel imports.)

11. Etc, etc… do we actually need any more reasons?

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