We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

You keep using that word “economy”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

“UK green economy has shrunk since 2014”, laments the Guardian.

The number of people employed in the “low carbon and renewable energy economy” declined by more than 11,000 to 235,900 between 2014 and 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Green businesses fared little better, seeing their numbers drop from an estimated 93,500 to 88,500 over the same four-year period.

[…]

Critics of the Conservative government’s record of support for the low carbon and renewables sector blamed the Treasury’s dramatic cut in subsidies to the solar power industry for the sudden loss of employment.

Solar panel installers were among the many businesses connected to the industry that went bust after the Treasury cut subsidy payments by 65% in 2015 before abolishing them altogether last year.

Obligatory “Princess Bride” clip for those benighted souls who haven’t seen it.

17 comments to You keep using that word “economy”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • George Atkisson

    Now if only there was an economic system available that would reward successful Green products and businesses, while clearing the market of failed business models and inferior products, without the heavy hand of Government leaning on the scales.

    Anyone … ? Bueller … ? /shrugs

  • Eric

    Ah, magical green jobs. We’ll be paying more people to work and saving money at the same time!

  • bobby b

    “Solar panel installers were among the many businesses connected to the industry that went bust after the Treasury cut subsidy payments by 65% in 2015 before abolishing them altogether last year.”

    We in the US must be far behind y’all in quelling the green machine.

    I just put a sizable grid-tied solar collection system on my parents’ roof, along with the needed inverter/controller, two-way meter, etc. We put on about $18,000 worth of equipment.

    Right off the bat, they got an $8300 credit on federal income tax. (A credit to tax, not a deduction, so it comes directly off of the tax they owe.)

    Then, they got the same kind of credit for state tax, of about $2900.

    Our energy monopoly then gives them a rebate (state-ordered, because the state runs the monopoly) of about $2600. This is an immediate credit against future bills.

    Then, while their new system generates power, the monopoly buys back from them the excess power they generate over their own usage at a rate-per-kilowatt that is almost double what they pay the monopoly for power.

    We figure that they have a payback period of about four years, and then they’ll not only get completely free electric, they’ll get substantial payments for their excess generation (and they will be substantial, as we sized the array to produce 130% of their historical use.) The state has promised not to include the value of this new system in figuring the value of the house for property tax purposes for twenty years.

    The tax credits and rebates will end soon but the monopoly signed a fifteen year contract promising to buy their excess, so that’s locked in no matter what our government does.

    And this is a green industry on its knees?

  • The Pedant-General

    “And this is a green industry on its knees?”

    No it’s state subsidies on acid.

  • llamas

    I agree with bobby b – but for a different reason. An ‘industry’ which can’t prosper with the huge, unearned subsidies he describes being fire-hosed at it, deserves to be on it’s knees.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Bobby b, not that I blame you at all for taking advantage of the subsidies your government foolishly offers, but a word of warning. You write,

    The state has promised not to include the value of this new system in figuring the value of the house for property tax purposes for twenty years.

    Put not your trust in princes.

    By which I mean don’t count on the state (I assume you mean the US state where your parents live) or the State in any form to keep its promises for twenty years. Eventually even governments sometimes get tired of being stupid.

  • Alsadius

    I can sort of see why the Brits might subsidize wind or hydro power. Even tidal in a couple places.

    But solar? Have these idiots ever seen a British sky?

  • Runcie Balspune

    What counts is not the monetary economy, but the energy economy.

    Don’t loose sight of the original intention, which is to reduce carbon emissions, this is done by either making technology more energy efficient or not using fossil fuels to power it.

    Regardless of the “payback” in dollars/pounds, the real issue is whether the manufacture, delivery, installation, and long-term maintenance and replacement/repair costs require less energy than the solar cell will generate over it’s lifetime.

    For someone living in California or Australia, this is a no-brainer, but not so much in Scotland or north England.

    The focus on jobs and the “green economy” distract from the real issue – is this contributing to carbon emissions reduction or not, if solar panels in the UK are a net contributor then perhaps having less of them might be a bonus.

    Solar cell technology is not renowned for overall lifetime efficiency, but it is still rapidly improving, and if battery technology does the same it will become a viable replacement.

    In previous years, because of the modern efficiency of electric motors (using rare earth metals) it is often a better alternative to reduce energy usage by pumping water through a Solar Water Heater, the energy saved by not heating the water using conventional means outweighs the energy used to pump it through the roof heaters.

  • Eventually even governments sometimes get tired of being stupid.

    I have been waiting for that happy event my entire life.

  • Bobby B-

    That is what winning looks like.

  • ns

    bobby b – Did you take disposal costs into account? The disposal costs for solar panels can be high.

    Runcie Balspune – “Don’t loose sight of the original intention, which is to reduce carbon emissions, this is done by either making technology more energy efficient or not using fossil fuels to power it.” The dirty little secret of renewables is that backup generation is needed to match actual load, this is often 30% to 40% of the renewable capacity on-line, and is usually coal powered. Backup is needed for when conditions change fast:
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-utilities-ercot-wind/loss-of-wind-causes-texas-power-grid-emergency-idUSN2749522920080228 . So the backup generation is not for peak hours, but for changes in demand and generation at any time that wind or solar is producing power. Like the article above, losing 1400 MW of wind generation in less than 5 minutes. This requires backup generation to be on and running, to ramp up to make up for the loss fast.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “Have these idiots ever seen a British sky? – Alsadius

    If not, here’s a clue!

  • bobby b

    “bobby b – Did you take disposal costs into account? The disposal costs for solar panels can be high.”

    Nope. Estimated 28 years of life, which puts them well out of my predicted range. And I’m a selfish bastard.

    (This all put me in somewhat of an ideological bind. I hate the subsidies. I see no reason to limit CO2 generation. As a Minnesotan, I WANT global warming – we’re in the middle of 14″ of blizzard as I type – but unfortunately CO2 won’t do anything to bring warming on. But, the parents are uber-libs who were dead set on doing this, and so I could either let them hire someone who would put in the 30-40 hours needed to be their General Contractor and charge them about $14k, or I could do the GC role myself for free.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Look at it this way, bobby. They’re adults and have a right to make ill-informed decisions.

    As for doing the work yourself and saving them $ 18 large, youse is a good man and you are doing a mitzvot*, just as any right-thinking young Jewish lad should.

    When you’ve done with their mitzvot, why not come on down here and do one for me. I’d like a nice addition on this house, say about 20′ x 50′. I won’t even ask for a pergola. :>)))

    * Not being a Good Jewish Princess myself, I had to check. In fact a Mitzvot/Mitzvah is one of 613 commandments God gives us, but we Western goyim often use the word to mean what it actually doesn’t — that is, a good deed.

    I hope that will defend me against gross smears labelling me as ignorant. It’s like wearing an amulet of garlic to ward off Evil. 👿

  • Chester Draws

    Solar cell technology is not renowned for overall lifetime efficiency, but it is still rapidly improving, and if battery technology does the same it will become a viable replacement.

    if “ifs” and “ands” were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.

    Or, for you Americans:

    If “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

  • Paul Marks

    The use of hyrdocarbons (coal, gas, oil) is massively taxed and regulated in the United Kingdom – and yet the “liberal” elite (who are not really liberal at all – they certainly do not admire Prime Minister Gladstone and his desire to get rid of the Income Tax) are not satisfied.

    The left want more taxes and more subsidies and they do not care how much the poor are hurt in terms of high energy prices and lost jobs in industry – note to those who do not know, jobs in the “Green” economy that have to be subsidised are not “sustainable” (to use your favorite word).

    “But C02 emissions…..”

    O.K. then – let us deregulate nuclear power (and deregulation would make safer – not less safe) and thereby massively expand nuclear power – in order to massively reduce C02 emissions.

    “No, no, no – that is not what we want” – I know that is not what you want, because this is not really about C02 emissions at all.

    The “Green” elite (with a few honourable exceptions such as James Lovelock) are “Watermelons” – green on the outside, but red on the inside. This is not about reducing C02 emissions – this is about smashing “capitalism”, regardless of the harm the “smashing” will do to ordinary people.

  • Ben David

    Julie:
    The word “mitzvah” means “commandment” and can also refer to a “thou shalt not”.

    But it is commonly used by religious Jews just as you have – to mean “good deed”.

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