Cloudy Outlook for Solar Energy in Britain

The Economist argues that heavy reliance on solar power as an alternative energy source will not help Britain meet its greenhouse-gas reduction targets in 2050 due to operational and financial infeasibilities.

On the former point, Britain is a nation that experiences inclement weather year round, which prevents British households from getting adequate sunlight, except during ephemeral summer months.

"[S]olar energy can never play a central role in such a grey country. In Britain, consumption is lowest when the sun shines. And since the technology does not yet exist to store the electricity generated, conventional power plants are still needed during high demand. [B]y 2020 all small-scale generation will only amount to less than 2% of current electricity output."

According to the article, an argument against solar power in the UK can also be made strictly from a policy standpoint.

That the investment of $20,000 per household takes as long as 25 years to generate a 10% return makes solar subsidies "regressive" because "poor people spend a larger share of their income on fuel than the rich. The perks, meanwhile, go to those with panels-often wealthier homeowners." To that end, policymakers should curtail subsidies for solar panels and siphon that money to other renewable energy outlets that produce better results.

With 1990 as the baseline year, Britain sets its GHG reduction target at 80% by 2050.

Full Story: Why Britain should never count on sunshine for its power

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95
Red necktie with map of Boston

Tie one on to celebrate your city

Choose from over 20 styles of neckties imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95