Your Money’s Better on your Roof than in the Bank!

John Youatt 6Three years ago, the cost of a solar electric panel (PV) array on a roof was about £4000 per kW installed. The feed in tariff was 45p per kW generated. The incomes paid off the capital cost within about 8 years. I know, because we installed 12 panels (3 kW) at the time and the returns have been better that predicted. Even better, with local publicity, there are now 10 installations in my small, national park village.

Some say the turning point was when the Daily Mail’s economics editor declared “your money’s better on your roof than in the bank”. Then there were scare stories and jealousy stories. Despite those teething troubles, the industry has now settled down, as demonstrated by the following article in the Solar Power portal:

“In the current talk of power shortages and lack of generating capacity, domestic solar photovoltaic, which could be readily implemented and is now cost-effective, has been overlooked. Prices are now close to the projected viable level of £1 per watt. A 4Kw solar PV domestic system can be bought for under £5,000 installed and can produce 4,000kWh a year with a 20-year guaranteed life. This gives a capital cost of £1,138 per kW, with an amortised annual cost of 5.7p per kWh, with no maintenance or distribution costs. If 10% of existing houses (2.8m) converted at 4kW, it would give 11.1TWh, with 11GW capacity, 12% of current UK capacity, equivalent to 3% of UK production, at an installed cost of some £12bn.”

“The annual value at the current domestic price of £0.15 a unit is £600pa. FIT tariff subsidies give a five-year pay-off. I write as a pensioner user with installed PV, which even at the old prices gives an 8% return guaranteed for 25 years, better than annuities or savings – and I am looking at how to fit in more capacity.” John Read, Clitheroe, Lancashire

The stunning point is that even at John Read’s cautious prediction of only 10% of roofs, solar electricity alone will fill the gaps left by the closures and accidents in the dirty fossil fuel and dangerous nuclear power plants. It can

31Oct sunflower 007• Be clean, secure and home grown.
• Create thousands of jobs in a very well regulated industry of panel makers, scaffolders, roofers and electricians.
• Add some income for hard pressed farmers, who like harvesting the sun’s energy. Harvesting is what they do.
• Spur the search for power storage, such as millions of electric car batteries, among many other storage methods
• Reduce transmission losses on the networks

So get installing
Check for the adverts in the press for your local established installer – beware the non-local companies who aren’t there to mend and maintain. The fault rate with local companies is very low.

John Youatt
Regional Co-ordinator (Derbyshire Dales area)

Brussels Biofuels Debate coming to a Head

Steven Roddy blogged on the RSPB website that “The next few months will be crucial as the European Union debates a change to EU biofuels law. We know how to fix this problem in a way that will stop the harm being done to nature and the climate, while still allowing innovative industries to bring new, genuinely beneficial, technologies to the market.”

The Green Party has been saying this all along.  Jean Lambert commented on the Climate and energy package back in 2009: Jean pointing 501234567“The adoption this week of the new climate and energy package has been hailed as ‘historic’ by some, but it remains to be seen how history will judge this week’s vote. … I sincerely believe that if it were not for the very strong presence of Green MEPs in the intense negotiation process the package may have completely derailed and the outcomes would have been much weaker.”

On 10 March 2013, Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s top candidate for the south-west in the 2014 European Elections stated  “The decision by MPs to continue to offer subsidies to crops that can be burned in power stations to create electricity is quite irrational and will cause more environmental harm than good.  … The fundamental problem arises because the government is allowing subsidies for industrial scale burning of biofuels, yet setting a low rate for the Feed in Tariff for new domestic and small-scale generators. This encourages the global market in biofuels rather than supporting local community renewables development.  Read more here:

Why do Greens oppose biofuels?  In order to satisfy the world’s insatiable demand for fuel in the face of declining oil output and rising oil prices, huge areas of land are being turned over to growing fuel crops.  It is simply not possible to meet current demand for fuel oil with biofuels – there isn’t enough land.  Growing fuel crops in the absence of a determined push to reduce fuel use can only lead to biofuels being used as well as oil, leading to greater carbon emissions. 

Biofuels 800px-Greenpeace_biodiesel_demonstrationThe growing demand for biofuels is leading to massive clearances of land including tropical rain forest, as is currently happening in Indonesia, resulting in the choking smogs of Singapore.  These clearances will lead to the total destruction of rainforest unless strong action is taken.  With rising demand and high profits to be earned, we cannot hope for sufficient strong action to protect this vital ecosystem. 

Sugarcane mechanized harvest operationIn addition thousands of small farmers, the mainstay of local food production, are being forced off the land to make way for industrial scale biofuel plantations.  This will lead directly to the collapse of local food markets and therefore yet more hunger.  Diverting land from food to fuel is simply wrong and is leading to rising global food prices.  This leads to big profits for food companies and starvation for millions. 

A final objection to biofuels is that, on the back of the drive for more fuel crops rides a drive to use GM crops.  This is happening in Argentina, where the Government has been persuaded to embrace GM technology and in its drive to get into the biofuel market.  GM crops will become established in global agriculture, contaminating the whole human food chain with completely unknown consequences.  We also suspect that the biggest drive to develop biofuels is coming from the military, who fully understand the consequences of peak oil.

Every year the UK burns enough food crops in our cars to feed 15 million people. Following action from the IF campaign, for the first time ever, land grabs were put on the G8 agenda. Trial partnerships with a small number of developing countries were also agreed, which show progress towards preventing land grabs that leave poor people hungry. Development Minister Justine Greening also spoke for the first time about biofuels affecting food security.


The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say – “Using food for fuel when millions of people are starving is wrong. But it’s not just people who are suffering because of the global demand for biofuels, nature is too.  What you may not realise is that the UK’s landscape is also changing and our green and pleasant land is becoming covered in ever more yellow rape-seed oil.”

How you can help – A key parliamentary committee, the Environment Committee, will be voting on the biofuels issue on Wednesday 10th July.  The RSPB are asking people to email or write to their MEPs about these concerns.  Read more and take action on the RSPB Community website:$$EfwYGGq81T08EEE&747970=6874&66=30

Fair is Worth Fighting ForGreen policy does recognise that biofuels can play a limited part in the supply of liquid fuels in a post oil world, but they must be from either certifiable sustainable crops grown close to the point of use, or be from non-recyclable waste. 

Can renewables meet the UK’s energy demand?


Those who are heavily exposed to the Carbon sector are running scared of renewables.  They put out propaganda to say that renewables cannot meet our needs, their favourite target being wind energy.  ‘What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?’ If the wind doesn’t blow, it means that the sun has gone out and the atmosphere has disappeared.  The wind always blows somewhere, a wind-powered grid would be interconnected over a large geographic area, it would also be backed up be other renewable sources such as tidal, solar, biomass and a range of new technologies that, with proper investment, will come available.  We only need nuclear if you want to keep nuclear weapons, we only need coal and oil to protect the financial sector.

A number of studies have shown that the UK could obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.  One such report was by Price Waterhouse Coopers, called ‘100% Renewable Electricity, a roadmap to 2050 for Europe and North Africa’.   [

This report has shown that the electricity supply system of Europe and North Africa can be developed to one that is 100% renewable by 2050 if the right policy framework is put in place today to drive activity in the coming decades, and without nuclear power.  The report concludes that this transition would be invisible to consumers as it should be possible to deliver it without any changes in lifestyle being required or any changes from today’s levels of power reliability.  As we have seen over the Feed in Tariff, this government isn’t prepared to put the right policy framework in place.

Another report by the Centre for Alternative Technology called Zero Carbon Britain, [ ] goes further and shows that the whole energy sector can be de-carbonised, including transport fuels and agriculture.  This would require some changes to lifestyle but it would lead to no reduction to overall well being or quality of life.  If we fail to decarbonise we will experience significant changes to our lifestyle as well as diminished well being and quality of life.  This would be due to the volatility in the carbon market leading to price escalations and scarcities, and to the impact of climate change.
The UK is fortunate in having ample renewable resources.  If developed these could give us energy security from a diverse mix so that we are never reliant on one technology or industry.

Renewable energy sources available in the UK include:

  • Off shore and on shore wind
  • Wave, tidal stream and tidal barrage
  • Biomass
  • Geothermal
  • Solar, thermal and electric
  • Novel sources, eg saline

Although not an energy source, energy efficiency measures and insulation can reduce overall demand, which greatly increases energy security.

UK current final energy demand is about 205GigaWatts (source: the Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2009).  That includes electricity, heat and transport.  With some sensible energy efficiency measures, it could be brought down to about 120GW.  For example, switching from petrol to electric cars would yield 20-25GW of energy savings.  Extensive buildings insulation could save another 25GW, [greater than the current contribution from the nuclear sector].

Renewable energy potential, UK


Wind energy is the major source of renewable energy in the UK.  By linking renewable generators across Europe with a High Voltage Direct Current transmission, variability in supply in any one region can be smoothed out.  The mean potential of offshore wind around the UK is about 2000GW.  We need to tap less than 10% of this potential.
Estimates for onshore wind vary from 35-120GW mean power.  The high figure is based on all suitable sited being used, which would create great opposition, a figure of between 35 and 50 GW would be more realistic.


We really don’t know what our technical wave resource is, because the technologies are still in their infancy. From what we know of energy in the waves, we may be able to harness anywhere in the range 5-65GW mean power.

Tidal stream

We don’t have a much clearer ideas about our tidal stream resource, either. Some say 5GW mean. Others put it at 40GW mean, with peaks at times up to 100GW.

Tidal barrage

The total for England & Wales is about 5.5GW mean power. That still leaves scope for more tidal barrages in Scotland that are yet to be unevaluated.  Barrages generate opposition because of the scale of the development and tidal stream developments may be preferred.  On some sites however, barrages may be considered as part of flood control, so would be duel purpose developments.


Unlikely to be much above 10GW mean power, given we need to grow food.  Anaerobic digestion of organic waste could add to this figure and give valuable liquid fuels.


Not fully surveyed, estimates by the industry put our geothermal resource at about 4GW.

Solar thermal

Solar thermal could, with 10GW mean power, meet half our water-heating needs.

Solar electric

Our photovoltaic (PV) power potential is immense, but at present, it is an expensive way to get electricity. PV panels across 10% of the country (yes, that is a humungous area) would provide more energy each year than we demand, but most of the supply would be in the summer months, of course, whereas energy demand peaks in winter.

Offshore:                     200GW

Onshore:                      50                   conservative

Wave                             5                    minimum

Tidal Stream                 5                    minimum

Tidal Barrage                5                    England & Wales

Biomass                       10                  no food competition or use of waste to energy

Geothermal                    4

Solar thermal               10                   for heating


total                             289GW

Current final demand   205GW

Reducible to:  120GW  with insulation, efficiency, electric transport

No figures available for:

  • Solar electric, immense potential but seasonal and currently expensive.
  • Saline: very early research stage,
  • Biomass waste: arguably should be used for compost
  • Algal biofuel: early R&D, environmental impact unknown
  • Hydro and micro-hydro, could be of regional importance, linked to water supply.

[Thanks to Andrew Smith at London Analytics for providing referenced figures.]

We have the renewable resource, it needs the Government to create the policy framework that will allow it to develop.  Until they have deflated the Carbon bubble, they will choose not do this and continue to claim that renewables can only make a limited contribution to our energy supply.

Mike Shipley


Derbyshire Green Party Chair urges people to install solar panels before Government slashes Feed-In Tariff payment

David Foster, Chair of Derbyshire Green Party, has urged householders to install solar panels as soon as they can. Following newspaper reports and mistakenly leaked documents, it has become clear that the Government has plans to halve the Feed-In Tariffs for solar photovoltaic panels.

Currently people can claim 43 pence for every kilowatt of electricity they generate off their roof but the government now plans to cut this to around 21p from the beginning of December, with the possibility of even deeper cuts to follow.  The feed-in tariff scheme was introduced in April 2010 and has seen over 80,000 solar installations, the creation of more than 22,000 jobs and almost 4,000 new businesses.

David Foster  said,

“If people install solar panels now before the cut is due to take place in December then they will get the 43p rate for the next 25 years if they were to install them after that they would get less than half that.”

The Green Party claims that this cut will jeopardise currently planned free solar schemes for people unable to afford the upfront costs of solar panels as well as planned schemes for council properties. These are set up to be self-funding under current Feed-In Tariff arrangements but, the Greens say, they may no longer be so after the proposed cut.

Mr. Foster went on to say, “These cuts by the government are nonsensical. Over 25,000 people are employed in the solar industry and these cuts are a threat to these jobs.  The cost of the Feed-In Tariff is very small, less than 50p/year on the average fuel bill and a fraction of the cost of government subsidies of nuclear power stations.   As always, it is those on the lowest incomes who will suffer the most since they will be unable to participate in low-cost solar schemes.  As a result of this cut, it is now almost certain that the Coalition Government will miss the legally binding carbon reduction target for the UK set in the 2008 Climate Change Act.  This government’s claim to be the Greenest Government ever is looking increasingly hollow and lacking in substance.”

John Youatt, the Greens convener in Derbyshire Dales and a founder member of Sustainable Youlgrave said,

“No matter how many Ministers try to justify this cut to the renewable energy programme, it makes no sense either financially or environmentally. The Green Party is unable to understand the logic of this decision. By investing in renewable technologies, not only does the Coalition Government help combat climate change and create jobs, but also it gives Councils a further incentive to help the fuel poor as well as increasing local authority revenue. In my locality, we held a forum and people signed up for panels, but only because the rate was right at under 10 years pay back. At over 15years, people will not invest. “

Greens in the High Peak Borough Council Election 2011

This Government is leading a concerted attack on local democracy. Their aim is to see Local Authorities contract out all services to the private sector, a move being pioneered in Bury. They want Councils to do nothing more than simply award contracts to private companies. Yet the private sector’s principle interest is profit, not delivery of service. It answers to shareholders not users of services. It is not democratically accountable. Green Councillors across the county are resisting this policy that will hit the poorest hardest and benefit the richest most. Greens know that the Government’s cuts are both unfair and unnecessary. We have produced an alternative programme for reducing the deficit, boosting investment in green jobs and avoiding savage cuts.

Investment into reducing the energy demand of the country needs to be happening now if we have any chance of minimising the damage of climate change. Almost 60% of our carbon emissions come from manufacturing and consumption, more effort must be made to reduce this figure along with major improvements to public transport and changing attitudes towards how we use our cars.   The Borough Council should aim to become carbon neutral, it should take advantage of the Feed In Tariff to turn its building stock in to energy generators, cutting its energy costs and raising revenue.  Green Councillors in Norfolk are setting up a Council owned Energy Supply Company, using the Feed In Tariff to finance fitting solar panels on Council buildings, selling surplus electricity back to the grid, so cutting costs and raising revenue. Green Councillors in Kirklees set up a free insulation scheme for council tenants that has enabled households save on average £150 on their annual energy bills. Greens deliver new ideas, not cuts.

Too many Councils are failing to protect the interests of small business and the local economy, always favouring the interests of big business.  Throughout the country, Green councillors with the support of local landlords, traders and residents have managed to stop many attempts by supermarkets to build unnecessary stores that would cause the closure of local independently owned shops. Local stores provide a wider social and economic role and one that is central to a sustainable neighbourhood. Over 50% of the turnover of independent retailers goes back into the local community whereas the supermarkets effectively take money out of the local economy. They also meet the needs of the disadvantaged, socially excluded and elderly, particularly those with a lack of mobility who cannot access more distant shops.

Green Councillors have also fought to save local markets and helped establish farmers markets to encourage the sale of locally produced food.  The Borough Council should review its land holding aiming to make land available for food production for local supply, again raising revenue for local services. Greens bring cooperation with local business not sell out to big business.

Untold billions was found to bail out the banks and replace Trident yet when it comes to safeguarding our children’s future and the lives of many people around the world both Labour and the Lib-Con Coalition do not see it as a priority. Greens are planning for a safe and sustainable future for all.

Create Jobs By Investing In Green Technology

The Green Party would create jobs by investing in green technology. It is instructive to compare the records of Britain and Germany in this area. When the Greens in Germany joined the coalition government, they forced through a series of measures on renewable energy including:

  • Support for research and development of renewable energy systems.
  • A feed-in-tariff [FIT] that guaranteed for 20 years the price of electricity sold to the grid
  • A commitment to close the nuclear power stations.
  • Business was required to source renewable power in preference to conventional power.
  • The FIT encouraged many small and domestic generators to invest in renewable systems.

As a result of all these measures Germany raised its renewable output from 6% in 2000 to 15% in 2010, exceeding this year’s European target of 12%. In that time the UK raised its renewable electricity generation from below 2% to 5% and is aiming for 15% by 2020.

Through its investment in R & D, Germany has created 300,000 jobs in the renewable sector, increasing employment in this sector by 8% through the recession. It is now investing heavily in photovoltaics and is aiming to become a world leader in this technology.

The UK’s more tentative investment strategy, determined as it is to protect and promote coal and nuclear power, created probably 70,000 jobs. There is not a wind turbine factory in the country, despite having the greatest wind resource in Europe. We have some centres of excellence, but these are likely to face budget cuts.

The main financial support mechanism for renewable electricity is the Renewable Obligation. This requires industry to source a proportion of its electricity from renewables. It guarantees an above market price to renewable generators. The UK has recently introduces a FIT scheme designed for small generators.

The Tories plan to scrap the Renewable Obligation. Although it is a complex scheme, the Green Party does not support scrapping it. The industry needs security of investment, and that includes knowing what price electricity will fetch during the investment life of a project, usually 20 years. Uncertainty stops investment. Better to maintain the commitment under the RO and phase in the FIT scheme for new developments while keeping the FIT commitment to small and domestic generators.

The Tories will expand nuclear power, following the policies produced by the big energy companies like EDF who want to invest in big ‘base load’ plant. They claim that the variable nature of renewables, they mean wind and solar only, makes these plants essential to guarantee supply in all climatic conditions.

The Green Party opposes nuclear. Base load can be provided by a combination of sustainable biomass, wave and tidal schemes. Also, we support the development of the trans-Europe High Voltage Direct Current grid to link solar arrays in North Africa, [bringing much needed revenue to the Saharan states], wind farms across Europe and Hydro-plant. This grid will supply base-load.

Couple the above strategy with efficiency, reduction in demand and insulation and we can do without nuclear with its long-term heritage of waste and inherent security risk, without fear that the lights will go out.

Note: the output of UK nuclear stations has increased in the last quarter to 20%, running above the contribution from coal for the first time. This is to enable the Government meet its carbon reduction targets with out actually doing anything, and adding strength to their [and the civil servants at the dept of Energys’] argument that we need nuclear power.