The Madness of Solar Power in the United Kingdom


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Episode .1 Solar power in the UK. An in depth look at the truth and science that lies behind the madness of solar power in the United Kingdom. Sources below.
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Some releases are updated monthly or quarterly so there may be more recent releases in the links below than the exact ones I used when I made the video.

Solar intensity maps are from SolarGIS:
https://solargis.com/maps-and-gis-data/overview/

The Capacity / Generation tables are from “Renewable electricity in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England in 2016” https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/647335/Regional_renewable_electricity_2016.pdf

The Summer / Winter variation of renewable energy is from “Section 6 – Renewables” of the quarterly edition of Energy Trends (link is for a more recent release that I used but has the same chart with different colours)
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/695804/Renewables.pdf

The European data of Solar utilisation and Solar/Wind renewable mix was calculated from the country tables of “World Energy Council – World Energy Resources 2016” eg. p.583 for Solar. There is also useful commentary on different energy types in each section.
https://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/World-Energy-Resources-Full-report-2016.10.03.pdf

The cost of renewable subsidy by type is from a DECC response to a Freedom of Information request:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/307492/response/755097/attach/3/FOI2015%2028748.pdf

UK monthly electricity demand is from ET5.5 in National Statistics – Energy Trends
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/electricity-section-5-energy-trends

US monthly electricity demand is from the “US Energy Information Adminstration – Monthly Energy Review”
https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/mer.pdf
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47 replies
  1. Spencer Wilton
    Spencer Wilton says:

    The very first graphic was wrong. So the UK receives 2.5 kWh of solar per meter squared? No mention of over what timescale means this is completely irrelevant. Is that per hour, per day, per month?

    Reply
  2. Paul Cox
    Paul Cox says:

    You have quoted a lot of figures, none of which l dispute but you are missing some very important points. Other commentors have covered some, my panels have generated a very useful 9,000 kWh since they were installed 3 years ago, as l have a battery system l have used most of the electricity generated. Now given that about 70% of all electricity generated is lost in transition to generate my 9,000kw 30,000 would actually have to have been generated! That's a lot of CO2. You can't get more locally produced power than from the roof of your own home and with no Co2 emmited in it's production. Power used at the point of production with no transmission loss, please don't say that doesn't make sense. Would make more seance if l lived in Spain, but l don't!

    Reply
  3. Tom Jones
    Tom Jones says:

    People who are happy with their solar panels obviously never crunched the numbers. I have a mind to do a self-built and I'm really keen on installing a heat pump and some form of renewable energy. I started off open minded and considered solar first. If anybody can make it work, I can. But even with no installation costs and carefully sourced components, I just couldn't get the numbers to work. You cannot power a household with solar, unless you invest an inordinate amount of money into the system. And it's not even the money, the whole think just didn't make any sense. It gave me this 'arse about face' feeling. Wind is different kettle of fish, a 5kW installation can power an energy-efficient household entirely (including heat pump) very nearly all year around. Much more sound. Problem is, the system is more expensive, as you have to go for a relatively substantial install, not the mickey mouse 1kW top-of-the-house mounted propellers that you get for couple grand. Those are nearly as useless as solar panels. There seems to be a gap in the market at arount 4-5kW mark (sweet spot for the domestic realm). Next is the 10kW one, which – after my calculations – not only it would power the household entirely, it would also feed back to the grid about 17000 kW per year! Amazingly good, but with an eye-watering a price tag of 47k. Works a treat for something like a small dairy farm, but excessive in all aspects for a domestic household (feed-in tariffs not that great these days). If anybody knows of a well sized/well priced wind turbine with a solid capacity, sure let us know.

    Reply
  4. ferkemall
    ferkemall says:

    UK = your getting mugged German mfg wind farms supply the bulk via UK /EU contracts thats why May & her Tories scrapped the feed in tariff & the put up the VAT on solar from 5% to 20%
    they knew that in 2020 its the EU year of compliance and that in 2021 is going to unify the price of energy = massive price hikes for the UK .

    Pick a tariff from Eon where you refuse a smart meter = it costs a lot more ,last year i was paying £60 standing charge & 12.34 Kwh this year its £120 standing charge & 17.44 Kwh
    Germans on eon paying 30 euro cents Kwh =big catch up .

    All new houses Flats by EU dictate have some solar = new places in Poole Dorset = 3 panels on a roof = not worth a J Arthur Rank but does increase the price of the property & complies to EU dictates /laws =UK have to many vested interests in the EU and these & other deals were done with the EU where domestic gas boilers /fire places /wood burners ect will be banned & all properties will be all electric =your getting mugged !

    Reply
  5. MARK Yates
    MARK Yates says:

    But if solar panels can be bought for half the price of the same kW of wind then that's better. Modern panels are 350w each. With just 12 panels any unshared hose can generate more in a year than it consumes. A kW of gas not burnt generating electric is a kW the planet can save for when it's frigging freezing and we need it to survive! Only when solar is greater than daily requirement is to much solar a problem! clever factual video is fundamentally stupid in these few ways. Wind is not an option for 99% of houses. Solar works on all that aren't shaded by a forest

    Reply
  6. Colin Overton
    Colin Overton says:

    I thought about solar panels about a year ago when there was still a subsidy available. The costs including a battery was ~£10000, around 50 times my electricity bill per year. I did not go ahead.

    Reply
  7. ken pen
    ken pen says:

    I believe you are wrong, the solar mix is just as important as wind! The investment needs to focus if anything on renewable technology which provides all round energy, and the best for this type of renewable for this country is inline stream tidal turbines, currently being testes in Scotland with 3Gw turbine. I have solar on my roof which goes to a battery bank, and I have wired the parts of the house circuit off the grid I.e. ring main, and lights to operate all year round of the battery bank, without using the rid at all! And in the summer I has excess solar, which when it suits goes into my electric car. I built this myself, so no governments pay outs used here! If every house in the uk did this how much would we save on the gas generated power? The solar needs to be applied correctly and efficiently, which in my opinion means on very house roof top, solar farms are a waist of arable or brown sites land!

    Reply
  8. punto182
    punto182 says:

    Ok, it's took me some time to get round to replying properly;
    I'd like to ask what your views are on Domestic Heating, Hot Water & Electricity Supply?
    To clarify, what means/technologies/solutions do you suggest to carry out the above rolls and what level of CAPEX do you think should be involved.

    AS you are probably aware, subsidies are no longer in place for Solar in the UK.
    What are your views on a Subsidy Free Solar installation on a Domestic Property?

    May I also ask what your background is? as I don't wish to Patronise

    I'd like to add I have a British Passport, but don't live in the mainland UK it's self.
    The Local Govt. here has never offered subsidies for renewables, except customs with a reduced rate of VAT – but that is on other Domestic Refurbishment Works also..

    Reply
  9. Tim Tam
    Tim Tam says:

    Unfortunately, this is a classic case of oversimplification resulting in faulty analysis. Assuming this was genuinely done in error, what would be useful is to revisit this video and use it as an illustration of why solar might not look like a good idea on paper but actually works well in the real world. Btw, I don't disagree with the UK's lack of cohesive energy policy and there should indeed be a greater emphasis on other renewable sources but that doesn't change that this assessment of the viability of solar PV (solar hot water doesn't seem to be mentioned at all), is incorrect.

    Reply
  10. Jon Godfrey
    Jon Godfrey says:

    your fundamental assumption is that the different technologies are mutually exclusive which clearly they are not. Solar Panels work just fine in the UK and 99% of people can't put a wind turbine or Hydro-electric system on their property. The answer is avoid use, reduce use, efficiency and all renewables.

    Reply
  11. Ambient Fish1
    Ambient Fish1 says:

    Solar makes sense to me, before my solar array and battery were installed I was using approximately 4 mWh per annum from the grid. Since the system was installed on Oct 6th 2018 to May 12th 2019 I have drawn 380 kWh, I am predicting that I will be drawing about 18% or less by Oct 6th 2019. I had made every effort to reduce my consumption by only buying A++ rated appliances, LED lighting etc to get down to the 4 mWh usage pre solar install.

    Reply
  12. Gea Vox
    Gea Vox says:

    HAHAHAHA! This is disinformation video, trying to discourage solar installations.. commissioned by WHO, exactly, I would love to know?

    We have just under 4KW installed capacity with a single inverter, as some of teh roof space is taken upo by a solar thermal we had already installed a couple of years earlier. Our FiTS do us very well and the generated wattage is not inconsiderable – or so we are told by our lecky supplier, Good Energy.

    So, BAH! to you, naysayers, Solar in the UK makes total sense, especially with climate change.

    And in our next home we plan to go the extra mile and install PVT (PhotoVoltaic Thermal), the new generation of PV cells that also heat water, so there is no need for a separate system for water heating.

    😝 HAHAHAHAHA!

    By the way, I have an Honours Degree in Environmental Quality and Resource Management, and the info here is B*LLOCKS! It's like saying that you shouldn't plant vegetables in Britain because they grow much, MUCH better in the Tropics… GROW UP!!!

    Reply
  13. Judy Bradnam
    Judy Bradnam says:

    Every Watt of electricity that I generate and use with PV and battery storage is a Watt that has not been generated by coal, gas, oil or nuclear. Do you not see the point? Where is the "madness" in that, my friend?

    Reply
  14. Open eye
    Open eye says:

    But maybe the answer is learning to use less power?
    It just puzzles me that we keep getting told we must reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, yet at the same time we have more and more gadgets being made that are dependent on power to use them!
    They keep banging on about not exploiting our resources, yet we have tech companies selling computer printers cheaper than the replacement ink cartridges!
    I recently had to bin our fairly new washing machine due to the bearings being warn out! When I enquired about getting the bearings replaced, I was told that they no longer sell just the bearings, and I would have to buy the whole tub unit, at about £150.00 + fitting cost!
    So for me to repair the washing machine was going to cost me about £200.00, the machine was only £250.00 when new!
    So sorry, but this nonsense about saving the planet is just that, NONSENSE!
    We live in a world in which the answer always seems to be taxation, I can't think for one moment why this could possibly be? 🤔
    Governments want to tax us all to death in order to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, yet at the same time allow large corporate companies to continue making BILLIONS, from selling the very fossil fuels which they claim are responsible for the damage to the planet in the first place!
    They are charging people in supermarkets for plastic bags, in order to reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill, yet we are being told by local councils that we must use plastic bags in our rubbish bins!
    Not only that, but did WE THE PEOPLE demand that the dairy industry put all our milk in those plastic containers? Instead of the glass bottles that got collected, washed and then reused!
    And what about individual homes having their own solar panels with an independent battery storage system? So we could have FREE electricity from the sun, and even if solar power wouldn't be enough to replace our dependency on the grid, it certainly would be a step in the right direction!
    But I suppose it's because I used the word FREE energy, and that wouldn't be in the corporate interest would it?
    The only people responsible for damaging the planet are the large greedy corporations all for the sake of profit, and WE THE PEOPLE are paying the price!

    Reply
  15. Stuart Kirby
    Stuart Kirby says:

    The Global Horizontal Irradiation Map at 2:21 is a bit misleading because it's horizontal. If you put UK panels at an angle facing south then the energy collected is more-or-less doubled. That's why we do it that way. What's more, we do very well during the summer because the sunlight is around for almost 18 hours. One big problem with domestic solar is the installation cost but if you're replacing your roof tiles then you will soon have the option of using Tesla solar tiles and competitors will follow. You need to buy a new roof anyway and the solar power comes as a largely free bonus. Hence, the cost of solar is slashed. Now, during the winter we do not get much solar energy – I keep daily records for my 2 Kw system and it produces about four times the energy in mid summer to mid winter. However, the UK is a windy place and wind power doubles during the winter compared to the summer and compensates for lower solar. Tiny domestic wind turbines produce expensive energy but the latest big off-shore commercial turbines are fully competitive, so not something that you should do at home. This leaves the question of energy storage and the V2G (vehicle to grid) cars that are coming onto the market will deal with this. You buy an electric car and the energy storage comes as a largely free bonus. It's all coming together! …. and solar plays its part.

    Reply
  16. t43562
    t43562 says:

    This seems simplistic. e.g. how efficient is the kind of wind turbine that a homeowner can install ? What about noise from home-sized turbines and the possible danger if one breaks. Are most homes sited in windy enough locations etc etc. Most of the money going into a solar installation at home is from the homeowner anyhow so how would the government get that money to put into some better system without making it a tax? There are a lot of things that we do which aren't optimal such as owning private cars which spend most of the day doing nothing or spending huge amounts on status symbols but we do them because it's what individuals want and will spend their wealth on – it's a phenomenon that can be harnessed.

    Reply
  17. punto182
    punto182 says:

    Your skills as a Lobbyist are admirable. Engineering, Energy and Thermodynamics could use a refresh.

    Solar Panels reduce "Solar Gain" to a Roof, which in turn reduces Cooling Requirements.

    A Domestic Hot Water Tank Heated directly or indirectly by Solar is "Energy storage".

    Modern Thermally Efficient New Build Houses in the UK have a greater annualised Energy Requirement for Hot Water than for Central Heating.

    The CAPEX on Domestic Solar PV is falling, and is set to fall further once the F.I.T. ends this month (March 2019).

    Solar P.V. will always be an ever growing part of the UK Energy Mix. Unsubsidised Larger Projects at first, filtering down to Domestic Home Refurbishments last.

    Long After Brexit, Long after Fracking is abandoned, we'll still be fitting P.V.

    Reply
  18. John Q
    John Q says:

    Al Gore and his CO2 scam is not a good background for your video, since CO2 is colorless, odorless, not poisones miniscule gas with 0.038% in the air and essential for life in general.

    Reply
  19. Wayne
    Wayne says:

    There is a tall building in Manchester which sported an array of wind turbines on the roof, that would automatically turn into the wind (for the kudos or to help with the planning permission etc.)
    No matter how hard the wind would blow they would just spin around but the turbines would not turn.
    Eventually they gave up and rigged electrically powered motors to make them revolve and restore their Kudos.

    Reply
  20. Gary Duff
    Gary Duff says:

    You are 100% wrong I am afraid. I live in Plymouth in the UK and have a 4kW solar installation. I produce more power from the solar panels in a year than we use in the house in a year. This is obviously very good irrespective of the feed in tariff. This is because we live in a very efficient house. Increasing the efficiency of your own home should be undertaken in whatever way necessary before you consider installing solar panels. Wind and solar compliment each other seasonally very well in the UK. I work in the offshore wind industry in the UK and Europe and although this works well, wind energy is still second hand solar power. Solar power is on its way to be the no 1 power source for the world and this is not surprising considering how cheap they are becoming. Capitalism will ensure that we move in the direction of the most cost competitive W/£ solution, and this will be PV solar ultimately….

    Reply
  21. Mark
    Mark says:

    I have been using solar for 34 years. It's great. Today 22/1/19 get home hot water and 5 kW battery full. Won't use any energy from the grid or oil . Heat room with from battery and hot water for a bath. It's brilliant. You have to own to use it.

    Reply
  22. Chris Hill
    Chris Hill says:

    Great video, and see what your saying but solar PV allows consumers and not necessary big business receiving the subsidies, I feel very fortunate to have solar over and at the highest level of the FIT that existed ( subsidy ) so maybe it's a fare way to share the energy revolution, what I worry about it's big business or people who have capital to invest and leaves poorer house holds left out in the cold, but also variation is always required to help balance the grid and the new battery which are available with or without solar can have a part to play

    Reply
  23. Joe Amos
    Joe Amos says:

    What a load of waffle with charts, graphs and a few maps that mean nothing. I have solar in East anglia. 2.7kw system with an iBosst ho twater feature. All my excess is used diverted to the immersion heater to heat the water before its exported. I get about £130-160 every 3 Months for what i generate plus my bill had dropped £40 per month. Draw a pretty graph for that one and work it out!
    Solar isnt madness, ranting about it being not worth it is. The price of battery storage has dropped and continues to do so. A 5kwh battery used to be £3000, they are now at £1200 and still coming down. 2 batteries would provide nearly everything required to self suffice a 3 bed home. My bills and FIT say it all.

    Reply
  24. JImHig
    JImHig says:

    The large biomass generator in the North is I assume Drax. Which has been converted to burning wood pellets. While this is better than burning coal it's still bad for climate change as it takes around 40 years to re-grow the trees. It is the burning that is the problem! Solar may not be brill in the UK but at least the burning I'd occuring 94 million miles away from us.

    Reply
  25. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    When you start replying to someone about chemtrails in a serious manner, I cannot take your video seriously.. Someone left you out in the sun too long I think

    Reply
  26. ferkemall
    ferkemall says:

    come march 2019 its all redundant as the conservative government cut the feed in tariffs solar will just crash in the UK they did some deal with the energy providers but they are not saying why they did a big U turn on the green energy and betrayed the British people and will put thousands out of work and shut down green businesses ,the government is 90% Jewish
    To big them selves up on the green front they did say that all new properties built will have to include solar panels , in Poole Dorset they have some new builds and yes they were fitted with solar panels just 3 panels on each of the roofs , they just forgot to mention there is minimum amount and of course the builder stuck to that one ,3 panels wont be worth a J Arthur Rank .

    So if you work in the solar industry in the UK YOU NEED TO TRAIN UP FOR SOMETHING ELSE !

    Reply
  27. Julian Skidmore
    Julian Skidmore says:

    There are many good points brought up, well done for producing it. The problem is that we shifted to Solar from Wind power, because the Conservative / LibDem coalition effectively banned new onshore Wind turbines. And that was a real problem, because on-shore wind is affordable by communities via organisations like: Energy4All . The government then made renewable energy cooperatives illegal on the feeble grounds that they aren't directly their own users. Solar however, can be bought by individuals and they can obtain a ROI on that.

    The solution really is to allow cooperatives to build wind turbines again and / or allow cooperatives to build solar farms in other countries in the EU (oops, thanks again Tories) and transfer the energy using HVDC. That's a little way in the future though, since the HVDC network isn't there yet.

    Reply
  28. David Ball
    David Ball says:

    Just because there are other people better at stuff than me, does't mean i'm not going to try my best. Same with solar. I installed my own 2kw system with a battery. It reduces my pull from the grid. I'm happy with that achievement. It is irrelevant that the same system installed in Spain will provide more power. I don't live in Spain.

    Reply
  29. Paolo Trianni
    Paolo Trianni says:

    I haven't watched all the way through the video yet but is this guy missing the heat issue with solar panels. The hotter the less power generated. Most areas with more day light also are alot hotter and this damages the panels and produces less power. Most people in the UK that have solar panels see huge benefits to owning them. I don't own them myself. I do like the idea.

    Reply

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