Solar Energy: Handouts for the Rich

Today’s junkmail: someone providing solar energy for the home.  Oh, and the private swimming pool.  With big subsidies: up to 100% on selected promotional properties, and government subsidies on others.  Great!  Clean energy on the very-cheap.

Unless of course you’re stuck with renting your home, and any such investment would be in the hands of your landlord.  Yep, like so many benefits, this one excludes the poorest 30% (or whatever) of the population, who just get the privilege of subsidising richer folks.  OTOH, rather pay for their solar power than their excessive consumption of dirty energy.  Except – we get to do that too, through a range of payments, as well as tax-breaks like low-rate VAT.

How’s this for a radical suggestion.  Increase solar-energy microgeneration while at the same time benefitting poorer folks by legislating for its installation in rented property.  Add ever-tougher energy standards as mandatory requirements when letting a property.  To include basic solar panels for any property with a south-facing area of roof.  In the case of flats, these should feed communal (but metered) hot water supplies.  Nah, dream on …

Posted on August 13, 2008, in energy, environment, rants, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Every time I think that, just maybe, the gub’mint has twigged on to the fact that alternate energy is not only a nice thing, but is essential to our continuing to live as though energy is inexhaustible, they get sidetracked on other things, like killing Iraqis. It’s very disconcerting. Bread, circuses, and unnecessary murders in foreign lands, and this is supposed to distract us from the impending drought and blackouts of the coming decades.

  2. At least Hawaii has enough common sense to have passed a law requiring all new construction to be built with solar hot water. Keep the faith, one day, perhaps after my time, Congress will pull their head out of their … and start doing something about Americas’ energy independence.

  3. The average grant paid towards a solar water heating system in SW England under the current government programme is just under £400 (although they claim that grants of up to £2,500 are available). The typical cost of an installation is £3,000 to £5,000. The savings against conventional water heating are not especially huge (often below £100 per year) so it hardly seems like clean energy on the very cheap. Grants for other forms of micro-generation may be proportionately greater, but the cost savings to the householder are very small indeed. So frankly you need to be both rich and altruistic to bother with it at all!

    I agree that the compulsory fitting of solar water heating in new builds or refurbishments would be a far better idea, and this should be significantly cheaper than retrofitting, thus making the whole concept more viable whoever ends up paying for it.

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