A short while ago Billothewisp was tipped off that a considerable number of scientific papers relating to the harmful effects of wind turbines were going through peer review.
Now the August edition The Bulletin of Science, technology and Society (BSTS) has published no less than nine peer reviewed papers on wind turbines, noise and health consequences.
This though is only the start.
Unfortunately unless you are a university department or (example) an NHS trust, a mere plebian (like Billothewisp) has to fork out the best part of £500.00 to subscribe to the BSTS, or at least pay $25.00 per paper. Ouch!
Luckily, the National Wind Watch Site Here has published the abstracts
I expect that after initial publication these papers may well become more accessible, so a google search may well find them. Alternatively, if you have what is known as an "Athens" account (i.e. you work for the NHS or an academic institution) you should be able to get at them on-line now.
These particular papers are:
Professor John P Harrison, Dept Physics, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada,
Paper: Wind Turbine Noise
Dr Bob Thorne Phd. Noise Measurement Services Pty Ltd, Enoggera, Queensland, Australia
Paper: The Problems With “Noise Numbers” for Wind Farm Noise Assessment
Dr. Arline L. Bronzaft Phd.GrowNYC, New York, New York, USA
Paper: The Noise From Wind Turbines: Potential Adverse Impacts on Children’s Well-Being
Dr. Alec N. Salt Phd, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Dr. James A. Kaltenbach Phd, Lerner Research Institute/Head and Neck Institute, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Paper: Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans
Dr. Carl V. Phillips Phd, Populi Health Institute, Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA
Paper: Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents
Dr Robert Y. McMurtry MD FRCSC FACS, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, Ontario, Canada
Paper: Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis
Carmen M. E. Krogh BScPharm, Killaloe, Ontario, Canada
Paper: Industrial Wind Turbine Development and Loss of Social Justice?
Carmen M.E. Krogh BScPharm, Killaloe, Ontario, Canada
Lorrie Gillis, Flesherton, Ontario, Canada
Professor Nicholas Kouwen, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Jeff Aramini Phd, Intelligent Health Solutions, Fergus, Ontario, Canada
Paper: WindVOiCe, a Self-Reporting Survey: Adverse Health Effects, Industrial Wind Turbines, and the Need for Vigilance Monitoring
Dr Martin Shain Phd, University of Toronto, Caledon, Ontario, Canada
Paper: Public Health Ethics, Legitimacy, and the Challenges of Industrial Wind Turbines: The Case of Ontario, Canada
That, my grubby little Englanders, is the tip of a very dirty iceberg that is about to hit the fan (or windmill - so to speak)
You have to ask: How long does this have to continue before somebody actually does something other than sit on their hands hoping it all goes away?
Billothewisp may well oppose wind turbines simply because they are bloody useless. But before that he vehemently opposes building the things anywhere near peoples homes.
There must be a set-back of at least 1.5 Km instituted NOW.
Anything else is criminal negligence.
It is not often that Billothewisp has been impressed by pub food, but tonight was a rare exception.
A chance encounter entailed a visit to the Ship public house in Wool. Billothewisp was presented with the best pub curry he has had in a very long time. Not only that, the bar staff were friendly, the beer good and the ambience very pleasant.
Previously, on my last visit,about a year ago it felt a bit like eating in Tesco's. But not any more.
The landlord was a great host (sounded like a Brummy... no doubt from the Dagenham mould). Certainly worth another visit. Thursday is Curry night, and it is cheap. I'll be there.
Here is a challenge:
Billothewisp, in true Kolly Kibber style (you haven't read Brighton Rock? Shame on you!) will buy the first person to correctly identify him a pint of Badgers.
But it has to be done correctly. Aka:
"You are Billothewisp, and I claim my free pint"
Of course you risk making a complete Pillock of yourself and getting punched in the face. But even so you will still have had a good curry.
If the person you challenge bursts into tears at the thought of having to pay for someone else's drink, then you know you have the right man.
Regrettibly Billothewisp is significantly over the drinking age limit so cannot claim to be too young, or too poor. Neither can he claim membership of the Salvation army. (although he will try)
Just make sure you stand between him and the door. He is, when asked to pay, quite fleet of foot.
Whatever way he tries to weedle out of paying, take no prisoners.
But make sure you get the right guy (or gal, or pit-pony).
Or you might be spending a night in the cells.
What is there anyone can write that will ever address the sea of grief and tragedy that has engulfed Norway? What can you do except recoil in horror at the events that have cost so many children and adults their lives?
But we must look at the preposterous self important fool that performed these terrible acts. He is not just mad. He is not simply somebody in need of treatment.
To think that, would be to degrade those who really do have a mental health problems. They are no more likely to perform such a vile act than the next man or woman.
This murderer is no more mad than the sycophants who did the bidding of Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot. Like these other fools before him he is just a sad little loser looking for something to big himself up on.
His peer group are the dirty murderers who poured the Zyklon B into the gas chambers at Auchwitz. Or slaughtered children ("little traitors") in Cambodia by smashing their heads against trees. Or those responsible for the Omagh Bombing. Or 7/7. Or 9/11.
They all bear the same hallmarks of moronic political incompetence and a vain self-importance.All these terrible acts were performed by people who the rest of us would regard as criminally bigoted idiots.
All of these followers of hate have become so soaked in their own bigotry that no outrage is too extreme however ridiculously unobtainable the demands or aims.
People like these are not mad but they are evil. And very, very stupid.
This Norwegian murderer's grand plan against Islam involved murdering non Muslim Norwegian children.
Now you have to ask yourself: How fundamentally stupid you have to be to believe that would be an effective strategy?
How ridiculous a political viewpoint do you have to have to think that killing anyones children will endear your dogma to the parents and friends of those murdered children?
There is a danger that since his actions are so vile, so brutally ugly, nobody will countenance mentioning his pathetically stupid goals and aims. But they must be mentioned, and then held up to the ridicule and derision they deserve.
We must also ensure that legitimate debate is never mortgaged by the likes of this evil fool. We need to address the stupidity of narrow minded, bigoted extremism wherever it comes from. We need to show up these murderous fools for what they are and ridicule their evil fairy-land policies. We must not allow them to influence fair and just debate.
I expect this filth is loving his 15 minutes of fame. I expect though, that the next 45 years in solitary confinement, might prove less pallitable.
Whoever locks the door, just make sure you throw the key into the deepest Fjord in Norway.
Then laugh at the bastard as you walk away.
On the 12th July the government published its latest white paper of energy reform The Electricity Market Reform Paper 2011 Here
Although this white paper cements in an absurd commitment to a massive expansion and deployment of wind turbines, the bankers and investors are getting cold feet.
They are blaming this on what they say is a lack of clarity in the white paper. (As described in "The Scotsman" Here)
But there is more to the bankers prevarication, as noted in the above article:
That was partly due to regulatory uncertainty, he said, but funding for wind farms was also being impacted by low average wind speeds over the last couple of years, which has depressed rates of return on existing projects.
Maybe the bankers have started paying more attention to data indicating a reduction in wind speed across the UK. As described in a paper by Wind Turbine enthusiasts Garrad Hassan.
(see Billothewisp post "Wind Speed In Decline: A Blip or a Trend?").
Maybe now they can see that even with their huge subsidies, erratically performing turbines may not be the sure investment bet they were once thought to be.
Whatever the bankers think, one thing is sure, nobody in government would now risk the wrath of the electorate by giving the bankers a guarantee on any continuation of the currently flawed ROC scheme let alone an increase. If they want a cast iron guarantee on what is really very risky high return investment, they are going to be dissapointed. (at last)
What if these grubby little investors attempt to blackmail us by threatening to take their "green" investments elsewhere?
Billothewisp has two words to say to them
Poor old David Nutt. There he was, on the BBC expecting a factually based scientific argument on the country's drugs and drug recovery schemes. All he got was a blinkered opinionated journalist. All we got, as licence payers was a smokescreen that hid the vital arguments and data.
But for David Nutt, things went from bad to worse. He then was on a regional program and was confronted by someone who was simply uninterested on Nutts scientific studies or credentials and dismissed mere science as an also-ran. They preferred their own narrow viewpoint and were unwilling to bend, even when confronted with the facts.
A travesty for public information. But for the BBC it all made good television. Guardian Article Here
While alternative viewpoints are always useful, and must be heard, it is highly disturbing to find the BBC so in-thrall to such marginal and unverifyable viewpoints. They have just been hauled over the coals by an independant review. (Here). I expect the BBC will issue a myriad of weasel words, I doubt they will take any notice. they are far too self important for that.
It is a good thing that Murdoch has had his wings clipped. But I do fear that this is simply going to leave a triumphalist and self-centered BBC as an even uglier and opinionated organisation than it already is.
If the way they have treated Professor Nutt is anything to go by, we should not be expecting anything like scientifically accurate or informed commentary from the BBC. Just more self serving and sensationalist propaganda that they clearly prefer.
It has been knuckle chewing time for the last couple of years for those wind farms that have been stupidly built in the less windy parts of the country. Even those built where the wind actually blows have seen their profitability massively cut. But those who had been planning to cash in on sub 20% capacity factor outputs are now beginning to feel the heat.
Of course we all know that none of them were, are, or ever will be, viable without a massive ROC subsidy. But even with this subsidy some must now be trading on the margins of viability.
Last year for example the output of all UK wind farms fell by 7%. Yet in that same year many more turbines were built. The theoretical (some say imaginary) total wind-farm capacity increased by 13 %.
To me, that looks like over a 21% drop in total.
An unpredictable long term reduction, getting worse year on year. Just what the bankers want to hear (not).
2009 wind speed was low, last year it was lower still.
So, is this a blip? Or is it a long term trend?
Oh, such a quandary and who has the answer?
Actually it is our friendly BWEA to the rescue. Or rather a paper presented by the doyens of the Wind Turbine fraternity: Garrad Hassan and Partners Ltd
I hasten to add this paper was presented first in 2006 and is now dated 2009, both dates are before the current downturn.
You can find the PDF of their paper Here (if it disappears, Billothewisp has a copy)
It is titled:
LONG-TERM WIND SPEED TRENDS IN NORTHWESTERN EUROPE
The running 15 year trend with wind speed, according to Garrad-Hassan is as follows
It is going down. Now remember this was up to 2005.
Garrad-Hassan then tried valiantly to use some weather indices as proxies to go back further. Back to the 1960's in fact. The most important of these is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) then there are two other indices used. One is Katalog Der Grosswetterlagen Europas. This is a subjective catalogue of large scale weather patterns over Europe dating back 100 years. Then finally they also used the UK Jenkinson Lamb weather classification (which is similar to the Grosswetterlagen catalogue but for the UK)
Here is what they found for the NAO
here is the Jenkinson Lamb result
Finally here is the Grosswetterlagen graph
Notice how they all roughly correlate.
Also notice the "blip" around 1995.
In their conclusions, Garrad-Hassan try and sweeten the pill of the 15 year decline by suggesting that all that was happening was that wind was returning to stability after a upward blip in the mid 1990's.
However we should remember that this is then essentially returning to a stable "low" wind-speed. Garrad-Hassen re-assuringly write that a further fall in average wind speed should not be assumed. Though, they could not rule it out.
But of course, this Garrad-Hassan data only goes up to 2005. Since then we know that things have actually got worse (significantly so in the last year)
So, are we just bottoming out? Or are we still going down?
Perhaps our previously loan happy banking fraternity should look a little more closely at what they might be letting themselves in for.
Maybe the wind turbine carpet-bagging fraternity will be seeing that big red stamp that spells out "DECLINED" being used a little more on their loan applications from now on.
Maybe a few of their pals who have built these things in totally inappropriate areas will soon be queuing up at the local Licensed Insolvency Practitioners office.
Then I expect the poor bloody rate-payer will have to fork out to pull the things down.
What a waste.
Go onto any price comparison site. Select one of the big utility companies. Have a look at how many different tariffs there are.
Here is the result of one quick scan I did for electricity tariffs. It includes dual fuel, but only on a variable direct debit.
- NPower have 29 different tariffs
- British Gas have 58 tariffs
- Scottish Power 15 tariffs
- EON have 10 tariffs
- OVO 54 tariffs
Don't forget this is only variable direct debit. God knows how long the full list of tariffs is.
This is not done for "customer choice" this is done to obfuscate and confuse. It is a deliberate policy of making things difficult to understand so as to undermine the customers visibility of what they are really paying.
But even forgetting about the massive casquade of apparently different though essentially identical tariffs, there are even worse liberties taken with consumers.
Take some elderly relatives of mine.
They are hardly infirm and are still very much in command of their faculties.
But they don't get on with the internet and they come from a period of time when Utility Companies were trusted and held in high regard. A bit like the banks (need I say more?)
Needless to say, these fine people are inevitably on a high tariff.
Nobody at Npower has told them that they could save £150 simply by changing their current tariff for another virtually identical one.
But it gets worse.
Npower have recently increased their monthly direct debit.
They have done this even though NPower currently owe them £400.
Thats is a continual and increasing overcharge worth currently over half their annual bill.
A free loan from the old to the averacious bastards at another greedy energy utility.
This is shameful. Dare I say for any normal business it would also be regarded as immoral. An deplorable activity bordering on criminality.
Energy Utilities are given a virtual profit guarantee and an easy market.
I don't think that it is too much to ask for them to behave in a moral and decent manner.
Until this scandal is addressed, more and more people are going to be forced into energy poverty. More and more of the old and vulnerable will die for the lack of a little heat.
Just so the utilies can continue amassing their huge immoral fortunes.
This has got to stop.
But is there anyone in government with the balls to address the problem?
I have my doubts.
Thanks to JAA I've found the tomb of the Penitent Coal Baron. (See Post Here)
Here it is:
Further more he is buried in Merthyr Tydfil rather than Aberdare.
Except for that (and a few other minor embellishments) the story was at least 372% accurate. Wikipedia page on R.T. Crawshay here
My only defence for the errors in my story are excessive quantities of alchohol, a 40 year gap and the fact that it was told to me by a retired and poetically drunk Welsh miner.
But personally I don't consider my error (or the miner's) that bad.
Under the circumstances, I think we both did quite well.
For a while, back in the early 1970's I lived in Aberdare. Aberdare is (or was) a Welsh mining town. My father and mother both were born there, early in the 20th century. My father, like his father before him, and many of my mother's relatives, worked in coal mining.
But like so many poor Welsh folk in the pre-war years, they yearned to move away from the poverty and grime. Finally they succeeded. They only returned in their latter years.
Like so many Welsh parents they vigorously ensured that none of their children had anything to do with mining coal.
When I was in Aberdare in the early 70's the mines had mostly closed. The only evidence of a massive mining industry were a decreasing number of slag heaps and a Furnacite plant.
Even then in the 1970's regulation was lax. The prevailing wind regularly blew the filth from the Furnacite plant on to the hillside opposite. That hillside was a wasteland. It only recovered when the plant closed in the 80's.
As for the slag heaps, they had, for over a 100 years, been piled ever higher with no regard to safety or health. Things changed in 1966 when in nearby Aberfan a slagheap collapsed onto a school killing nearly 150 people, most of them children.
Today Coal Free Aberdare is a far better place than it was in the 1970's let alone in the 1930's or earlier. Slag heaps are a thing of the past and the river runs clean. But only after an enormous amount of clean up.
We all know early-mid 20th century coal was a dirty disease ridden energy source. How does that relate to today?
Today, even in the West, coal mining still has a significant casualty list associated with it. It may well be smaller than in the past, but it is still horrendously long.
As for China and the Third World, conditions are often as barbaric as 1920's Aberdare.
At this point I could expound on alternatives to coal. On how bad wind is, and how nuclear is the only solution.
But this post is not about nuclear or wind.
It is about King Coal.
and The Devil.
One dark and stormy night in 1972 I was in a pub called the General Picton in Aberaman on the outskirts of Aberdare. In those days this was a "Men Only" pub and this was firmly stated on the public bar door.
The beer was advertised as Brains Brilliant Ales. Actually Draught Pale Ale as I remember. The slogan on the advert was accurate. I had a few. It tasted very, very good.
For part of the night I talked to an old retired miner. We talked politics, nationality, sport and finally discussed the effect the coal industry had had on the local area.
After a while he told me the tale of the Penitent Coal Baron:
A local Edwardian Coal Baron was rapidly approaching the end of his life. Everywhere he looked he could see the fruit of his exploitation.
The dirt and grime.
The misery and poverty.
He became increasingly alarmed at the prospect of Eternal Damnation.
So in the last months of his life he desperately set about good works.
At the same time he frantically worked on the epitaph he wanted put on his tomb stone. He tried all sorts and shades of biblical text. But they all came out sounding pompous and self serving.
The Lord would surely have none of that.
The Devil Beckoned.
Finally as his life slipped away, almost with his last gasp, he hit on a real devil stopping quotation to put on his tomb stone.
From what I was told, somewhere in Aberdare cemetery there is a large Victorian/Edwardian tomb belonging to the Penitent Coal Baron.
His tombstone epitaph is simple and really should be read by every rapist of the countryside. Every person who thinks trampling over local people to get their way is acceptable. Everyone who thinks it acceptable to sacrifice someone else's environment so they can make a "statement" or a quick profit.
The epitaph on which the Coal Baron had spent so much time agonising over has just three words.
God Forgive Me.
p.s. Although drinking related, this is actually a true story (though soaked in age and alcohol) If you know who this Aberdare Coal Baron was, I would love to know.
A worked costing example for a 4 turbine Industrial Wind Turbine Plant. This is a little rough and ready in places but it is not far off centre.
1. Turbine size 2.5MW
2. Capacity Factor (CF) examples 15% 20%, 25%, 30%
3. Average Trading value of each ROC certificate (1 MW) £50.00 (an under-estimate) See ROC trading last 3 months Here
4. Trading value supply of 1MW/Hr £45 taken as a rough average of NETA buy/sell price 14/07/11 see graph below:
For those who don't know, the Capacity factor is the actual percentage of the boiler plate rating that the turbine really generates. So a CF of 25% on a turbine means it only really (on average) produces a quarter of the turbines supposed rating. The national average last year was 22%
Electricity generated per year:
15% CF = 8760 x 0.15 x 2.5 x 4 = 13140 MW/hr
20% CF = 8760 x 0.2 x 2.5 x 4 = 17520 MW/hr
25% CF = 8760 x 0.25 x 2.5 x 4 = 21900 MW/hr
30% CF = 8760 x 0.30 x 2.5 x 4 = 26280 MW/hr
Payment for generation at £45 per MW/hr
CF 15% £591300
CF 20% £788400
CF 25% £985500
CF 30% £1182600
ROC Income based on £50 per ROC certificate (1 MW/hr)
15% CF £657000
20% CF £876000
25% CF £1095000
30% CF £1314000
So total annual income per year for each of the above CFs
15% CF £1,248300
20% CF £1,664400
25% CF £2,080500
30% CF £2,496600
Turbine cost: around £750,000 per MW + £150,000 Installation = £900K per MW installed
So our 4 turbine site costs 2.5 x 4 x £900K = £9M
Maintenance, extended warranty and repair, about £150 per day per turbine all in. Plus rent to the landowner and other sundries. Say £250K per year all in.
Capital loan at 7.5% for £9M = 675K year (diminishing) plus capital repayment 10M/25 = £400K per year.
Initial total annual outlay = 250K + 675K + 400K = £1.325M. diminishing as loan is repaid to around 650K after 25 years..
So, on those figures a CF of 15-16% is just viable. But this is only because of the ROC subsidy.
If you excluded the ROC even a CF of 30% (less than 8% of UK turbines achieve this) is bordering on non viability.
But because of the ROC, anything above about 16% is financially viable - even in the short term. With 15% CF capital repayment could be offset against future profits, so even a dismal 15% CF would be attractive.
All because of the ludicrous generosity of the ROC.
I hope that explains why these things are being built in wholly inappropriate areas. As long as the Capacity Factor is a pathetic 15% or more then the generators are onto a nice little earner, irrespective of the damage they do to local communities in building their white elephants.
This is not going to get any better. Nothing is going to happen next year or even in ten years which will alter the laws of physics so these white elephants can actually contribute without being propped up by massive subsidies from the consumer.
We are stuck with this for 25 years.
But if our little carpet bagger friends have turbines running at last years average of 22% CF then they are raking it in. But only because of the ROC. Without the ROC the things are wholly unviable.
If the ROC was withdrawn tomorrow, I would bet that nigh on every wind turbine in the land would be scrapped within 6 months.
Junk Energy in its "purest" form.
You may not be aware of the Billothewisp's opinion of the Great, Good and Extremely Well Fed.
Sadly this opinion is very low. Some would say subterranean.
But happily this cave dwelling troll of an opinion has a friend and partner.
Equally ugly and stinky, Billothewisp's opinion of the Murdoch Empire is as rotten and putrid an the Murdoch Empire itself.
But this stinking pair of opinions often cancel each other out.
As a result, Billothewisp cares nothing for the phone hacking of John Prescott (why did they bother?) or any of the other wannabee celebrities on their pleasure excursion to fame and riches. All I can say to them is: If you don't like the heat, stop pigging out in the kitchen.
But when it come to the disgusting infringement of the rights private ordinary people, most of whom had only been thrust into the spotlight by horror or tragedy, then that is a a step too far.
In fact more like a whole staircase too far.
These arseholes at News International should be severely punished for crimes they have committed. Especially for the suffering they have inflicted on those who already have more than enough grief and suffering to contend with.
Examples need to be made.
Just for starters, may I suggest that Murdochs takeover of BSkyB is vetoed?
That actually is a good idea anyway. So maybe we need to think up something else to punish the arseholes with as well.
This bunch of bastards need to be brought to heel.
It is not often that something good happens in Africa. But today the world welcomes a new Country, South Sudan.
Exploited, dominated and brutalised by the Northern Khartoum dictatorship for the last 30 years, now the people of South Sudan have a chance to pull their desperately poor country into the 21st century.
This is good news due to the potential in this new country and the hope and determination of it's people. Perhaps if South Sudan comes good then we may see an "African Spring" which will involve the removal of the old ugly despots who tyrannise almost the rest of Africa.
Will South Sudan bloom into the Central African torch bearer of freedom and development?
I really hope so.
Because they start with a clean sheet, South Sudan must command our backing and support. Compared to the other countries in Africa which have squandered aid and then slid into the mire of factionalism and corruption, South Sudan is a beacon of hope in a sea of despair.
Let us hope the West gives real practical support to South Sudan and not just the feel-good mediaeval style indulgences that have often passed for aid but have simply bought off corrupt elites at vast expense.
If anywhere in Africa deserves our support, it is South Sudan.
First of all let me make this clear the concept of the Economy 7 domestic electricity tariff is excellent. It is just the execution that is flawed. (Wikipedia description here)
Economy 7 is a scheme dating from the 70's. Basically the consumers electricity is provided on two separate tariffs. The daily tariff is more than the night-time tariff. The night-time tariff is significantly lower than the median price. This is because during the small hours, electricity demand is low.
At night, electricity generated from base load generation is often barely required and much generation capacity is wound down to minimum (and inefficient) levels. During these quiet periods, generators sell their electricity at knock down prices. The theory of Economy 7 is that consumers can cash in on these quiet periods by using cheap electricity at unsocial hours.
Initially the driving force was to provide energy for night storage heaters. They used the surplus night time electricity to provide heat during the day. Often derided, night storage heaters do not really deserve their dreadful press. True, they do have their limitations. But night storage heaters were the first practical example of domestic energy storage - which has yet to be beaten.
The practical problem with Economy 7 is that it impacts on the huge profits made by the utilities selling it. If the electricity at night is sold at half the day time tariff, even after winding their margins up, the utilities still earn less from each KW/hr than they would from a flat tariff. Utilities don't really care if the night-time energy goes to waste. They also know that most Economy 7 customers have night storage heaters and have no choice but to use Economy 7.
To ensure their (guaranteed) profit stays as high as possible, the utilities charge Economy 7 customers double for day time electricity so the 7 hour night period price can be halved. An Economy 7 customer needs to use at least 40% of their electricity during the night period which is 29% of the day. They need to do this just to break even.
If there was any common sense to this we would all be on Economy 7 tariffs, but at fair differentials not ones dictated by greed.
More of us would use washing machines and other heavy load appliances during the slack periods. This would make better use of our available electrical resources. There would be less waste, and actually less wear and tear on the infrastructure of the grid.
But the massive profits of British Gas, RWE nPower and the others would take a (slight) knock. But no government has yet had the guts to suggest the utilities should behave responsibly.
So don't expect ground-breaking Economy 7 deals any-time soon.
Or the Law of Unexpected Consequences
One of the most clever and potentially game changing pieces of kit to come out of the mad dash to solar PV is the grid tie inverter.
Is this going to be a whimsical tekkie diatribe? Well, partly. But there is a sting in the tail at the end.
The small grid tie inverter is the piece of equipment that has made domestic Solar PV technically viable.
It is very, very clever.
Due to the fact that reference designs by companies like Microchip are freely available, small grid tie inverters rated at about 250-300W are cheap and plentiful. They cost about £70 -£150 on ebay (p.s. you get what you pay for)
So what is it and why is it so special?
Well, a grid tie inverter, like a normal inverter will turn a DC low voltage source into an AC mains voltage source. So your low voltage solar panels end up outputting mains electricity.
But that has been done for years.
The clever part is that the grid tie does this synchronously with the mains feed into the house.
Why is this important?
Because the grid tie is synchronised to the main frequency, you can use the power output of the grid tie to supplement/replace or even output power to the mains. Without this sychonicity all you would end up with is a lot of sparks and smouldering electronics.
The result of this is that you do not need to abandon a normal electricity supply and go off grid. If for example, when you want to use the washing machine that may take 2KW, your grid tie contributes to that value. You do not need to provide the maximum power your washing machine needs. But anything the grid tie does produce will reduce the amount of power you draw from the grid, thus reducing your electricity bill.
The whole of the current FIT subsidy orgy could not take place without cheap and effective small grid ties.
Currently, in order to claim the FIT subsidy, you need an "approved" installer with "approved kit" that are registered with a
But what if you don't claim the FIT? What if you set up a system that simply offsets your mains usage? You still massively reduce your electricity bill. There is incidentally at least one company on the market already doing this. FIT free (and cheap)
But what about "approvals" "Part P" etc. Well, as I understand it, most of the modern small grid ties are G83 approved and are advertised as "Plug and Play" They literally plug in like an appliance, but they actually drive electricity into your ring main not suck it out. Setting up a couple of solar panels to supplement your electricity supply could not be simpler. You reduce you electricity bills and so don't personally end up paying other peoples FITs, and you system is massively cheaper than an "approved" installer one. As you can appreciate this gets more and more worthwhile the higher electricity prices go.
But here is the sting in the tail.
The current Grid ties almost universally have what is known a MPPT (Maximum power point tracking) front end that is tailored to extract the most energy possible from solar panels.
So what happens when someone comes up with a cheap grid tie that instead of interfacing to solar PV, interfaces to a small generators? Or even more likely when some clever wag designs an interface to fake up an MPPT output from a petrol generator?
We end up with people backing off the mains with polluting small generators simply because electricity has become so expensive due to the ridiculous ROC and FIT subsidies.
But surely mains electricity is cheaper than equivalent petrol or diesel? Today? Only just. But if you use LPG or Tesco's best sunflower oil, probably not even today.
Remember you do not need to power your maximum requirement you just reduce it, so a small cheap generator is all that is needed.
If electricity prices continue to rise, people will find ways to beat the system and solar PV will only be a small part of it. We will end up with distributed pollution rather than distributed "renewables".
But worse, the people still paying for the ROCs and the FITs will be the poorest and most vulnerable who don't have the wherewithal to beat the system.
A landmark wind turbine bill has just about to go into committee stage in the House of Lords.
The bill ( See Here ) is intended to ensure a sensible distance (or set-back) is enforced to separate houses and wind turbines.
These are the distances in the Bill
If the height of the wind turbine generator is—
greater than 25m, but does not exceed 50m, - 1000m;
greater than 50m, but does not exceed 100m, - 1500m;
greater than 100m, but does not exceed 150m, - 2000m;
greater than 150m, - 3000m.
This is an very important bill. Even if it is the bloody House of Lords.
Furthermore this is going to get alot of people asking why this has not already been done. Especially when we have all clearly seen the distress these unprincipled carpet-bagging turbine developers have caused to people forced to live next to their monstrosities.
Questions are going to be asked as to why some councils ever approved the travesty of set backs of sometimes less than 300m.
It should now give councils everywhere pause for thought before approving the siting of these useless monsters close to peoples homes.
One would hope that this will give some legal redress to those folk who have been forced out of their homes by the inappropriate placing of turbines.
Do I hear blood curdling howls of joy from the no-win no-fee legal shyster's? Do I hear them revving their engines in a dash to file compensation claims?
This time Billothewisp won't be complaining too much.
Dennis Moore - the unforgettable and inept highwayman in Monty Python.
He starts out as a champion of the poor, but only steals Lupins. Finally he is convinced by the starving peasants to steal items of value.
But he ends up robbing the poor to give to the rich.
Dennis Moore has a rousing anthem, sung to the tune of Robin Hood. The final verse of Dennis Moore's anthem says it all:
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Without a merry band
He steals from the poor
And gives to the rich
So has Chris Huhne become the real life incarnation of Dennis Moore? Has he become the Lupin Czar of the Coalition?
Maybe not. But he is eagerly pursuing hair brained policies that give tax breaks to the rich while making the poor pay for them.
Lets just leave the lunacy of the ROC subsidies for wind power to one side for the moment and look at the other great plank of renewable subsidy. The FIT subsidy for Solar PV. FIT stands for Feed In Tariff.
Basically a householder would spend about £12-25000 on having an "approved" solar PV system fitted. This of course is done by an "approved" installer.
The FIT subsidy then pays the house-holder about 41p for every unit of electricity they generate (even if they use it themselves).
The electricity generated also offsets previously bought in electricity. This saves about 13p per unit, knocked off the electricity bill.
Finally, if they manage to export electricity to the grid (unlikely) they will be paid roughly what it cost to generate by any normal means - 3p.
The tax free return on the initial investment is said to approach 10%. ( See Here ).
Not bad. especially if you are a higher rate tax payer.
The scheme is paid for by a levy on all domestic electricity bills. Rich and poor all pay the same.
So, who has £10-25K just floating around gathering dust?
I don't mean who has saved £25K for a rainy day, their kids education, weddings or retirement or whatever. I mean who has £25K, surplus to requirements. Money that can be locked up long term in a Solar PV investment.
The answer is of course - the well off.
So, for the well off, fitting solar PV is an extremely tax efficient way of using a spare £25K that is probably just rotting in a bank account.
I have nothing against people being canny with their money. Taking advantage of this ludicrous scheme is a no-brainer. After all, it is government approved! Looking after your own tax efficiency and wealth is a good thing.
Taking advantage of gross governmental stupidity is more akin to sport than anything else.
But you can guarantee that those on low incomes, won't be queuing up for their FIT approved Solar PV panels any-time soon. Most don't have 25p going spare, let alone £25K.
But thanks to Chris Huhne's levy, it will be the poor who will be paying. Along with those who cannot justify the long payback time-scale or initial outlay.
There is perhaps a case for some encouragement for getting people to fit solar PV, but punishing the less well off to give what is essentially a tax break to the rich is hardly equitable.
Along with that, the current scheme with "approved" installers and "certified" panels etc. is just a dodgy salesmen's dream come true.
You can guarantee that there is a huge mark-up on this "approved" kit and on the hourly rates being charged by these newly badged up installers.
But it is still worthwhile getting FIT approved solar PV installed. If that is, you have the money to spare.
So Billothewisp's Top Tip:
If you have the money and are not going to need it in the short to medium term, and especially if you are a higher rate tax payer, get some FIT approved Solar PV installed.
If however you are poor or simply cannot afford solar PV then, well, you need to get used to paying the subsidy for other peoples tax breaks.
For that you can thank the aspiring Dennis Moore of the modern age:.
Our own Chris Huhne.