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« Quote of the day | Main | Global warming, my foot »
Tuesday
Nov302010

Bottom falls out of solar

This is a guest  post by Roddy Campbell.

Banks are turning negative on German solar, predicting demand will fall as subsidies are cut, in an environment of rapidly expanding supply of solar panels.

Bloomberg, in this story, talk about ‘Supply-glut armageddon’. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch, in a note to investors dated November 30th, report on a FT Deutschland story:

‘CDU (ruling party) energy policy advisor Thomas Bareiss has written to the Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen, advising that there should be additional solar subsidy cuts next year.’

Merrill say:

‘We calculate the average German household is paying roughly €200 per year for solar subsidies at present. The feed in tariff for new installations is set to fall 13% in January but if demand remains strong in H1 2011, which we think it will, then there could be an additional cut in July, just like what  happened this year. Germany accounts for roughly 60% of the global solar market and is therefore crucially important for driving utilisation, pricing and  profitability of the manufacturers.’

Germany produces some 600 billion kwh per year of electricity.  Solar produced 1% of that in 2009.  That’s about the most expensive way of reducing CO2 emissions one can think of.

To date Germany has installed circa 18 GW of solar capacity, and have a target of 52 GW by 2020.  A trebling of installed solar might imply, one would think, at least a doubling of the cost per household, from €200 to €400 per year.

Good luck with that, Angela.  (And don’t forget the wind tariffs too.)

Germany dominates global solar - people talk about China, but Germany took 46% of world installation in 2007, 35% in 2008, 56% in 2009, and an estimated 55% in 2010 – over 50% in total.  The truth is, no-one else cares, Germany has created the global pv industry almost single-handed, in one of the least likely geographies, because of its peculiar green political history.  It’s an aberration, not a sensible economic or environmental policy in any way.  As Merrill go on to say:

‘Germany has under-estimated... that few other countries care about solar, meaning Germany remains a large market of last resort. This will be the case more than ever in 2011…’

In related news, Citibank's thinking is turning the same way:

Cost conscious governments and consumers are increasing the risk of cuts in subsidies for solar photovoltaics through their increasingly negative sentiment towards the sector. In Germany the cost of electricity is expected to increase by 15% next year as solar installers reap the benefits of generous IRR’s this year

[Updated to fix millions/billions]

German solar – Banks turn negative, predicting demand will fall as subsidies are cut, in an environment of rapidly expanding supply of solar panels.

 

Bloomberg, in this story, talk about ‘Supply-Glut Armageddon’.

 

Merrill Lynch, in a note dated November 30th, report on a FT Deutschland story that ‘CDU (ruling party) energy policy advisor Thomas Bareiss has written to the Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen, advising that there should be additional solar subsidy cuts next year.

 

Merrill say ‘We calculate the average German household is paying roughly €200 per year for solar subsidies at present. The feed in tariff for new installations is set to fall 13% in January but if demand remains strong in H1 2011, which we think it will, then there could be an additional cut in July, just like what  happened this year. Germany accounts for roughly 60% of the global solar market and is therefore crucially important for driving utilisation, pricing and  profitability of the manufacturers.

 

Germany produces some 600 million kwh per year of electricity.  Solar produced 1% of that in 2009.  That’s about the most expensive way of reducing CO2 emissions one can think of.

 

To date Germany has installed circa 18GW of solar capacity, and have a target of 52GW by 2020.  A trebling of installed solar might imply, one would think, at least a doubling of the cost per household, from €200 to €400 per year.

 

Good luck with that, Angela.  (And don’t forget the wind tariffs too.)

 

Germany dominates global solar - people talk about China, but Germany took 46% of world installation in 2007, 35% in 2008, 56% in 2009, and an estimated 55% in 2010 – over 50% in total.  The truth is, no-one else cares, Germany has created the global pv industry almost single-handed, in one of the least likely geographies, because of its peculiar green political history.  It’s an aberration, not a sensible economic or environmental policy in any way.  As Merrill go on to say: ‘Germany has under-estimated ……… that few other countries care about solar meaning German remains a large market of last resort. This will be the case more than ever in 2011…..

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Reader Comments (61)

Bishop, apologies my typo. 'Germany produces some 600 million kwh per year of electricity.' should of course read billion.

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

The circle I've never been able to square is our government's desire to 'reduce fuel poverty', whilst simultaneously extracting ever more cash from the poor's electricity bills to pay for the feed-in tariff and windfarm extravaganza.

What am I missing?

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulH from Scotland

What am I missing?

Nothing except an undying faith in AGW LOL

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

PaulH from Scotland What am I missing?

I think you are missing a pair of blinkers, as worn by our ruling classes, that prevent them from seeing common sense.

In the meantime, I applaud the Germans with their legendary efficiency, for leading the way in alternative energy, and proving to the rest of europe, that it is about as viable as the notion, that the good Bish has fairies dancing in the snow, at the bottom of his garden (just to the right of the recycling bins, zoom in, you can see the footprints)

Vors sprung durch technic

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

I kept the post short and to the point, but one of the arguments for 'investing' (subsidising) in such things as solar, as a country, is to create a long-term industry and jobs - 'be a leader in new industries'. The Germans reckon there were 65,000 solar related jobs in 2009 in production, distribution and installation. Given 37 million households, and using Merrill's estimate of E200 each, that means each job costs E114,000 per annum.

It will be interesting to see how many of those jobs remain in a couple of years given that China continues to undercut Germany in production and manufacturing - I suspect a fraction (other than solar farm maintenance).

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

Excellent post Roddy.

My local council is proposing to install solar pv on 2000 roofs across its housing stock. The cost will be £14 million or thereabouts.

The proposal is supposed to be funded by a 'partner', which turns out to be an investment bank (un-named to date) funding a solar pv installation company (also un-named).

The scam is that the investment bank claims all the FIT on the solar.

The electricity companies pass the cost back to their customers.

So funds are transferred from us to the investment bank.

Nice.

There's an interesting paper about the German pv industry in which the authors have much to say that is relevant here. They find that by 2008, at a real net cost of €35bn, PV contribution to German electricity generation was 0.6% a year (emphasis added):

This paper critically reviews the current centerpiece of the German promotion of renewable energy technologies, the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), focusing on its cost and the associated implications for job creation and emissions reductions. The paper will show that, by and large, government policy has failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into Germany’s energy portfolio. To the contrary, the government’s support mechanisms have in many respects subverted these incentives, resulting in massive expenditures that show little long-term promise for stimulating the economy, protecting the environment, or increasing energy security. [Page 4.]

The paper highlights the nullification of emissions reductions by the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to which both Germany and the UK currently belong:

With respect to climate impacts, the prevailing coexistence of the EEG and the ETS means that the increased use of renewable energy technologies attains no additional emission reductions beyond those achieved by ETS alone. In fact, the promotion of renewable energy technologies ceteris paribus reduces the emissions of the electricity sector so that obsolete certificates can be sold to other industry sectors that are involved in the ETS. As a result of the establishment of the ETS in 2005, the EEG’s true effect is merely a shift, rather than a reduction, in the volume of emissions: Other sectors that are also involved in the ETS emit more than otherwise, thereby outweighing those emission savings in the electricity sector that are induced by the EEG (BMWA 2004:8). [Page 14.]

The authors conclude:

Although renewable energies have a potentially beneficial role to play as part of Germany’s energy portfolio, the commonly advanced argument that renewables confer a double dividend or “win-win solution” in the form of environmental stewardship and economic prosperity is disingenuous. In this article, we argue that Germany’s principal mechanism of supporting renewable technologies through feed-in tariffs, in fact, imposes high costs without any of the alleged positive impacts on emissions reductions, employment, energy security, or technological innovation. [Page 19.]

And:

Hence, although Germany’s promotion of renewable energies is commonly portrayed in the media as setting a “shining example in providing a harvest for the world” (The Guardian 2007), we would instead regard the country’s experience as a cautionary tale of massively expensive environmental and energy policy that is devoid of economic and environmental benefits. As other European governments emulate Germany by ramping up their promotion of renewables, policy makers should scrutinize the logic of supporting energy sources that cannot compete on the market in the absence of government assistance. [Page 20.]

Economic Impacts from the Promotion of Renewable Energy Technologies – The German Experience. Manuel Frondel, RWI; Nolan Ritter, RWI; Christoph M. Schmidt, RWI, Ruhr-Universität
Bochum, CEPR London, IZA Bonn; Colin Vance, RWI, Jacobs University Bremen. – All correspondence
to Manuel Frondel, RWI, Hohenzollernstr. 1-3, 45128 Essen, Germany, e-mail: frondel@
rwi-essen.de.

Full paper available at: http://repec.rwi-essen.de/files/REP_09_156.pdf

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Roddy

Are the Merrill and Citibank documents online? If so, could you post links in comments - thanks.

Dominic

Nov 30, 2010 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Dominic - drop me an email to [Snipped at Roddy's request]

Nov 30, 2010 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

The latest scam in the S-W is the rush by cowboy developers to sign farmers up to install acres of solar panels in their fields. It is just another in the long line of useless renewable energy schemes that we are continuously fighting against through the planning system. It doesn't matter whether you are in a place that gets little sun, the Feed-in Tarrif is so high that you could install solar panels in woodland and you would still make money. Of course just like the wind, when it is cold and electricity demand is high, solar panels produce zilch.

And as somebody said, it is those in fuel poverty who suffer most from this green scam called the FiT scheme.

We are governed by idiots like the loony Hoony and there is nothing we can do about it.

Nov 30, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This all proves, if prove were needed of course, that without government subsidies and the skimming of our own fuel bills, alternative energies such as wind and solar etc are commercially unviable.

Nov 30, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMactheknife

Philip

And as somebody said, it is those in fuel poverty who suffer most from this green scam called the FiT scheme.

That was probably me. But it bears repeating ad nauseam.

Nov 30, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Mactheknife
Commercially unviable in the UK, northern europe and other areas of the world with similar weather patterns.

On a sailing yacht, kitted out to cruise around the world, electricity is in high demand by modern kit such as refrigeration, communication, navigation, lighting, water makers etc. Even with a combination of solar, wind and towed generators, you will probably still need to burn diesel to meet your electrical needs.

You will see such kit on UK based yachts, but it is doing little more than trickle charging the batteries.

Nov 30, 2010 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Does anybody here know whether it is possible now to buy power from an energy company that is not using its own non-renewable customers to pay itself feed-in tariffs? The energy company that I have used for some time, Scottish and Southern Energy, has just increased its energy prices by approximately 9%. On 8 November this company also announced the supply of “free” electricity to its solar panel customers. “Customers who sign-up for the scheme will have solar PV panels installed on their roof by SSE‘s micro-renewable business – at no cost to the customer. The customer will be able to use electricity generated by these panels for free, in return for allowing SSE Micro Renewables to keep the panels on the roof for the next 25 years. SSE Micro Renewables will benefit from the generation and export tariffs associated with any solar electricity generated through the solar PV and will be responsible for all ongoing maintenance…..”

Nov 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Nicely done, Roddy.

As a retired person, I have little else to do besides read BH on line and make a few bob out of my investments. I have been following this scam for well over a year and it is clear that the ONLY reason it got this far was because of Germany's ridiculous lead in FIT and other support.

The premier stock in solar power has been First Solar, once at $153 but down to $124 or so. So it has not crashed. However, as you suggest, I am sure it will as soon as Germany starts sending the money to the PIIGS to support the greater dream of the Euro being a world currency. Ireland was just the most recent episode, with Portugal and Spain already under pressure. Pretty soon the money going to solar power will have to be spent elsewhere.

For those of you wanting to know who is in the Solar Power scam, there is a fairly complete list here. Scroll down to "related companies" under the first charts.

SOLAR POWER STOCKS

Nov 30, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

BBD: The FiT scheme is the reverse Robin Hood effect. Robbing the poor to pay the rich.

Nov 30, 2010 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I wonder how snow-cover will affect the generation of electricity from solar panels?

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

I applied for free solar in UK just for a laugh, their reply.

Dear Rob,
Hr

Thank you for applying for ISIS solar’s free solar power offer. Unfortunately your property is not suitable for our system.

Currently we are looking for one or two story properties with near due south facing pitched roofs of 30m² or larger.

Thank you again for your interest. If there is any change in our offer we will contact you to see if you are eligible.

Lawrence Buckley

Managing Director
ISIS solar

My house is a two story property 2700 sqr mtrs internal with a due south facing pitched roof and much larger than 30m², I emailed this company with these facts and have received no reply, odd that.

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobuk

Didn’t the German government promise to pay ‘home generators’ a premium for a long period - something like 20 years? Tricky if they have...

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

“how snow-cover will affect the generation of electricity”

A little light might get through and produce a trickle, at least until the weight of snow opens the seals and moisture shorts out the connections.. :-)

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Agree with what everyone says about fuel poverty - except I have to assume that our leaders are not all fools. Some of this has been designed to help the rich at the expense of the poor, with the culprits able to hide behind the smug self-righteousness of saving the planet based on junk science. It's a truly odious combination. To fix it we need a spiritual renewal, a rebirth of truthfulness and conscience.

However there is one massive positive. Behind this reassessment of solar has to be the vast difference in projected energy prices and security in the West over the next fifty years now due to breakthroughs like shale gas (with Germany next door to massive reserves in Poland) and new oil finds. Solar and wind subsidies are going to look so enormously stupid and selfish that voter outrage will put paid to the scam. As long as the CAGW religion also dies, as I believe it will.

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I wonder how snow-cover will affect the generation of electricity from solar panels?

Don't you know any physics? All that energy being captured heats the panels,melts the snow and warms the air so much that the snow is turned to rain before it reaches the panels. Obvious. Ask any greeny.

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Following on from Philip Bratby

... the convection currents set up by the rising heat, from the solar panels, are known as solar winds, another rich and as yet untapped source of free energy, that will cost billions to develop.

Nov 30, 2010 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

The 'green jobs' idea is just the broken windows fallacy recycled.

Nov 30, 2010 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Don Pablo - thank you. A number of stocks are well down, like the German Solarworld (advertised by Larry Hagman in the USA, the oil-man goes green), and it's been a poor few weeks for most. As the Merrill note indicates, demand in Germany remains strong (2010 very strong) as the FiTs are falling slowly, and panel prices are keeping pace to an extent, meaning that the irr hasn't fallen much yet - also where else do you go these days for a risk-free investment other than the German government, even at lower returns? The Germans need an annual cap for grid stress reasons as well as household bills, as mooted for the French here http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-30/france-is-planning-to-cut-solar-subsidies-les-echos-reports.html?t=E-SVMCF-FULL&pos=1

Re share prices etc the issue is as much fast expanding supply capacity as it is demand ceasing to rise or even fall, that's really a German question. In 2010 they did 8,000mw out of a global 14,000. If they fall by 4,000, and supply capacity rises by 4,000, it won't be a pretty sight.

Demand is price-driven - falling panel prices really do stimulate demand, the only thing that stops demand completely is a cap or much more rapid cuts in FiTs.

Luckily for everyone, according to The Daily Mail the holy grail is here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1334369/The-liquid-metal-make-rechargeable-solar-battery-store-heat-sun.html.

Amusingly, in the article they put their finger on a bit of a problem:

'The main obstacle to the new technology is the relative rarity of fulvalene diruthenium, making it extremely expensive to use. Only about twelve tons of ruthenium are mined each year. It is also a byproduct of nuclear fission.'

Nov 30, 2010 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

Just to provide you with a bit of background info from the front line, so to speak. I live in a market town to the south of Munich, in deepest Bavaria (that's in South Germany, if you're geographically challenged). When I look around I reckon about 10% of the houses have got solar panels. At the moment they're all covered in snow, but I've noticed in the past this soon melts - the roofs being south-pointing, more or less.

It's not just the houses, by the way with solar panels - you can see some really impressive arrays on the local farmers barns

My house is south-pointing, ideally positioned - as my next-door neighbour, who is in the solar-panel biz, has pointed out. He tells me, by the way, that business is booming at the moment, and his company is selling their products all over the world, including to the Japanese and the Chinese.

So why don't I cash in on this nice little earner, and install solar panels on my roof?

It would certainly offset the huge increase in our electricity bills which have been raised recently to pay for "renewable" power - payments which, believe me, I view with increasing fury.

Firstly it goes against all my principles.

Secondly, when we looked into it a few months ago we decided it really wouldn't be worth it - even with the massive "feed-in" payments the things still wouldn't pay for themselves for 11 years, and that's assuming that there would be no maintenance costs whatsoever. And the things have only got a lifetime of about 20 years.

I was talking to my other next-door neighbour the other day, who has just completed a massive green-ification of his house. He came to the same conclusion as me, and installed solar water-heating panels on his roof instead. (He also covered his house with 25cm thick insulation blocks, and installed an outdoor heat-pump, about the size of a bloody great refrigerator. Reckons that he has slashed his power costs massively as a result, although I reckon he must have spent upward of 50,000 euros).

Nov 30, 2010 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Boyce

"one massive positive"

I don't like to be over-optimistic, but this could be a Trojan horse for CAGW. If the subsidies collapse and bring down solar and wind, there won't be much credibility left to go round...

Nov 30, 2010 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Well, Paul, you thought like a straight-up honest citizen, but the game is to change the rules so that if you think like that, you'd end up losing money.

I somehow think everything is going the same way?

Nov 30, 2010 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub: That is the problem. Too many people don't have principles. They can see money to be made at the expense of the poor. I would never put up a wind turbine or a solar panel because I know that my personal gain would put up the cost of electricity for poor consumers (not to mention industry).

Nov 30, 2010 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I came across something a few weeks ago which predictably I cannot now find. From memory, the gist was that there is now so much installed solar PV in Germany that it is in danger of overloading the grid when output peaks.

This sounds improbable, but actually makes good sense:

The example was given of a summer weekday, with cloud cover. Domestic demand is fairly low and most PV output is being fed into the grid.

Then the cloud cover breaks up and array output abruptly peaks over a wide area.

Whoof - grid melts.

Nov 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Philip Bratby

“Too many people don't have principles. They can see money to be made at the expense of the poor.”

But Philip, PLCs have a responsibility to act in the best financial interests of their shareholders. If the Government sets up the ability for energy companies/investment banks to make money at the expense of the poor, the directors of companies that have the ability to do so are under a fiduciary duty to do so. It is the stupidity of the Government that is the problem.

Nov 30, 2010 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Perhaps Angela's secret plan is to convert BMW and Mercedes over to Sinclair C5 production - then it might all make some sense.

Uh oh, looks like the UK is following the same blueprint: http://www.wirefresh.com/the-sinclair-c5-electric-vehicle-is-back-as-the-x-1/.

"If you live in UK and work in the UK you may qualify to purchase the X-1 with a price reduction of up to 50% via Government run, cycle to work scheme"

Each one comes with a free straight jacket, for the protection of the owner's family.

Nov 30, 2010 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Grid melts.

Melting of any cables, grid or otherwise, occurs with current exceeding the carrying capacity of the cables which in a correctly installed system with fuses rated to protect the cables, doesn't happen. To reach an overload, both supply and demand have to be present simultaneously and both of at least that capacity. A system fault can cause current overload but a demand or supply spike alone can not.

When cloud cover breaks and previously satisfied demand remains unchanged all that happens is the potential for increased PV output rises whereas actual remains static. The guys in the grid control room cannot react that quickly to ramp-down conventional generation nor would they if there was a likelyhood that the sun would go in again. Another reason why the ratio of installed capacity to actual output remains low.

Nov 30, 2010 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

simpleseekeraftertruth correctly observes that 'melts' is not the right choice of word. I know; please forgive the colloquialism. I will be formally correct in future ;-)

Nov 30, 2010 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

@BBD

Solar technical matters are irrelevant really. What we have to remember is that we pay through the nose for nothing more than green bling.

Nov 30, 2010 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Re simpleseekeraftertruth

When cloud cover breaks and previously satisfied demand remains unchanged all that happens is the potential for increased PV output rises whereas actual remains static.

Ah, but the billions we're due to pay to fit 'smart' meters will solve that. They'll be able to manage demand.. by turning stuff off or charging more when demand is high. When output from intermittent generation is higher than current demand, they'll be as useless as a chocolate fireguard, so energy will simply be wasted. So much for 'green energy' or 'energy efficiency'.

Of course if houses still fitted storage systems, either hot water tanks or electric storage heating then surplus energy could be dumped into those and used instead of wasted, so smart meters could actually be useful to manage that. Surplus energy? No problem, I'll take it if it's a nice price. Trouble is UK housing was suckered into a previous green scam to install gas heating 'because it was cheaper' and condensing boilers 'because theyre more efficient'. And more expensive to buy, install and maintain, and generally don't seem to last as long. Plus housing designs seem to do away with old fashioned energy efficiency concepts like wrapping an airing cupboard around the hot water tank and using any 'waste' heat to warm or dry clothes. But now the rent-seekers have a captive market for gas, aided by legislation and planning regs they do the squeeze. Increased gas demand means higher wholesale prices and higher profits, especially if you're BG and forward purchased a shedload of gas which they're now making a nice profit on.

Even more ironic, if you fit any electricity microgeneration scam like wind or solar, and use storage heaters to do something useful with the electricty you'll probably end up with a negative energy rating for the property because that form of heating is ungreen.

Nov 30, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

I'm reminded of a comment I saw on a blog a couple of years ago in a different context, defending (or at least de-emphasizing) some inane policy: "We're rich enough to be this stupid."

I think what we're seeing now in the present economic conditions is that we're no longer rich enough...

Nov 30, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurt

simpleseekeraftertruth says:

Solar technical matters are irrelevant really. What we have to remember is that we pay through the nose for nothing more than green bling.

Agreed. Please see above at 1:49PM

Nov 30, 2010 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

OT interesting bit on the American clean air act

AN URGENT FOCUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE 
----------------------------------------- 
 
¶10.  (SBU) The French remain divided on how to respond to the 
Obama Administration's approaches to climate change. 
Most of the interested public and many in the government 
believe that interim 2020 reduction targets, and the level 
of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and concentrations at that 
time, will determine success or failure in slowing 
global warming.  For them, the EU's target of 20 to 30 
percent reductions below 1990 is the sole measure of an 
acceptable policy.  Even sophisticated observers are 
skeptical that long-term reduction goals legislated in the 
United States can be counted on as more than aspirations, 
especially if radical cuts are not imposed up front.  We 
have reiterated that U.S. laws are reliably enforced by the 
Federal government and by U.S. courts, using the Clean 
Air Act as our example.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
officials agree that legislation moving through Congress 
and the Administration's proposals would establish a system 
comparable to the EU's measures.  These officials 
regard Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo's public 
criticisms of Waxman-Markey as "insufficient on the medium 
term goal" as distracting attention from the need for China 
and India to reduce their rates of growth in GHG 
emissions. 

Nov 30, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

@BBD

Looks like agreement all round then, even from Monbiot:

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/01/a-great-green-rip-off/

I am sure you recall his comments but perhaps your local council do not.

Nov 30, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

@ Atomic Hairdryer

The old school in the gas industry thought that using gas for electricity generation into the grid was a stupid mistake as it substituted the no-loss generation and distribution system of gas for the high-loss electrical one. A good part of the decision process on that was political. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Nov 30, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

all australians will be paying 60 cents/kilowatt hour to those who got into the following scheme early. undoubtedly there'll be less uptake at 20 cents/kilowatt hour. the solar companies are angry cos they were all stocked up.

5 Nov: Sydney Morning Herald: Phillip Coorey: Solar blow-out may cost $600m in electricity rises
ENERGYAUSTRALIA has warned of a $600 million blow-out in power bills next year, claiming the federal government has underestimated the number of certificates it will issue as an incentive for installing small-scale solar energy systems on homes and businesses...
Last week the Premier, Kristina Keneally, slashed the feed-in tariff that the state government paid to those with solar energy systems from 60¢ to 20¢ a kilowatt hour of energy fed back into the grid.
The move was motivated by a higher-than-expected take-up of the government's solar bonus scheme, which was putting extra pressure on already-soaring power bills....
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/solar-blowout-may-cost-600m-in-electricity-rises-20101104-17fv5.html

p.s. if derek walton is about, i wish to point out that the CRU series of emails paul hudson linked to and authenticated as ones he received on 12 october included some that were past the 12 october date, which means that particular series could not have been identical to what he received. derek may have noticed it already, but thought i should mention it.

Nov 30, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Don Pablo -- I've just been reading the financial pages in a UK paper about the problems in Ireland. What the EU is doing and what has been going behind the scenes (ie protecting the bond holders) has a familar ring to it. That is , similar to the IPCC and all its games.
I agree with you that the EU countries will run out of money to finance these FIT schemes etc as there are much more pressing issues staring them in the face.

Nov 30, 2010 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss

@SSAT

Yes, one of the few occasions when I agree wholeheartedly with Monbiot.

Nov 30, 2010 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Mike Post

I seem to recall that you could elect to buy 'green' electricity from some suppliers. Of course, it was the same electricity, but it was designed to help assuage your conscience, if you thought that conventional power generation was evil (though necessary). It should therefore be possible to sign up for the bad stuff at a suitably reduced rate, but somehow I feel there will be obstacles thrown in our path, even though the logic is sound enough.

Nov 30, 2010 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Reliability, maintenance and investment wise, I would say stove nuts to solar.

Nov 30, 2010 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Roddy Campbell Nov 30, 2010 at 5:19 PM

"A number of stocks are well down, like the German Solarworld (advertised by Larry Hagman in the USA, the oil-man goes green), and it's been a poor few weeks for most."

Interesting. I suppose there'll soon be a new market for "J.R. ripped me off" T-shirts like they sold in the 80s.

Dec 1, 2010 at 1:23 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Organic Electricity - yes, I can see the advertising now. Baby polar bears dancing around deliriously happy happy penguins. Chickens scratching beside idyllic thatched barns. Majestic wind turbines cleaving the sky (etc.) Depressingly, I see that http://www.OrganicElectricity.com has already been taken by the enterprising capitalists of 'NexTek Power Systems'.

Dec 1, 2010 at 1:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

@pat
The 60c/kWh rate was for NSW only. Although it was by far the most generous FiT in Oz it was capped at 7 years. The NSW labour premier reduced it to 20c recently. There's been a lot of angst in the media about skyrocketing electricity costs in NSW and part of the blame is sheeted to renewables like PV, although their contribution is probably too small to be significant. Keneally probably took the pragmatic approach of disarming her opponents on this question before the upcoming NSW elections - her government is not popular.

Here in the ACT we have a FiT of 47.5c/kWh, roughly 3.5 times the retail rate (it was about 55c when the scheme started a couple of years ago) but contracted for 20 years. The ACT government has been quite smart in using a nation-wide Solar Schools program to put PV on school roofs at little cost to itself. ACT residents now have to pay the government for this PV electricity at the FiT rate, but I guess we'll get a reduction in our rates for the electricity bills the government no longer has to pay.

I could join the gravy train, my house is ideally situated, but, like Paul Boyce, it goes against my principles. A recent Australian Nation University report described PV FiTs as 'Middle class welfare' but unfortunately that same university has a vocal lobby group that believes the whole world will be running on solar in a very few years.

Dec 1, 2010 at 3:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeterB

Cheapest Solar Power is a wood fire.

Dec 1, 2010 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

On the topic of FIT and the morals of the gravy train, the BBC has an utopian piece of around 2mins at 19mins in;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00wbl9s/World_News_Today_30_11_2010/

The logic is that if we all became net producers of electricity as per their example, then we would all receive an income!

Dec 1, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

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