Yesterday proved the rank stupidity and shortsightedness of the Conservative governments energy policy was revealed, as the BBC reported;
A record amount of solar power was generated on Friday as Britain basked in sunshine and temperatures of up to 28C, the National Grid has said.
It said 8.7 gigawatts (GW) had been generated at lunchtime, representing 24.3% of total generation across the UK.
The level tops the previous record of 8.48GW set on 10 May.
Duncan Burt, head of control room operations at National Grid, called it the “beginning of a new era”.
“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system,” he said. “We also have the tools available to ensure we can balance supply and demand.”
So when the Conservative party cut environmental subsidies for to homeowners whilst at the same time give the go ahead to permit large scale drilling for shale oil, UK one has to ask what the frack is going on? At a time when we’re supposed to be reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and instead re-orientating our energy usage towards renewables this makes about as much sense as homeopathy.
Basically none at all.
Because as the Guardian noted;
The milestone reached on Friday is the latest in a series of records for solar, which has grown from almost nothing seven years ago to 12GW of capacity today. Last summer it provided more power than the UK’s last 10 coal-fired power stations.
In April this year, Britain achieved its first-ever full working day without coal power since it started burning the fuel in 1882, thanks in part to solar energy.
Solar’s rapid growth is overturning conventions for the managers of the UK’s power grid. In March, for the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon was lower than it was in the night, thanks to the cut in demand due to solar panels.
This ridiculous state of affairs is further compounded by a the previous governments decision to give the green light plans, not only to upgrade some existing nuclear power stations, but a build a completely new one. Of course it will be expensive both in financial and much more importantly, in environmental terms. Expensive financially because the costs of building it – around £18 – are to be offset by a guaranteed price for the electricity it sells, which as The National Audit Office has pointed out;
Falls in wholesale prices would increase the level of support that consumers provide through CfDs. CfDs fix the cost of electricity from new generating sources so that investments in low-carbon technology are viable. Falls in the market price therefore need to be offset by top-up payments. While this reduces the risks to consumers from price volatility, it means they benefit less from wholesale price reductions.
Which is a polite way of saying that no matter how much the wholesale cost of electricity drops by, consumers using electricity generated at the new nuclear power station will still have to pay the inflated price. The government has promised to buy the electricity at £92.50/ MWh, whereas the wholesale price in April was just over £52/MWh. Since 2010, it has never even cost £70/MWh. Teresa Mays election promise to curb exorbitant energy prices could start with re-negoiating that deal.
This at a time when this country needs a sustainable energy mix, one that is both sustainable in terms of not only environmental impact and cost effectiveness, but also energy security. Ukraine’s troubles with Russia providing a rather frightening example of the perils inherent on being over reliant on energy supplied by another country. Russia has cut Ukraine’s supply of gas three times in recent years, which when you consider that Russia supplies half of all of Ukraine’s gas – and supplies 23% of Europe’s gas. This makes renewable energy even more sensible and foreign ownership of the new nuclear power station either wonderfully optimistic at best or dangerously reckless at worst.
Back to the good news about solar power. Is it just me or does the erosion of the ozone layer mean that the sun’s rays are more powerful because they don’t have to burn through the ozone layer?
I’ll get me coat.