A Toxic Spot within the Panorama – Watts Up With That?


AY 30, 2021

By Paul Homewood

Solar parks are on the rise across the UK.

Around 1,000 hectares of land in the countryside per month are earmarked for photovoltaic modules and the associated kilometers of cables.

The government admits that more than a fifth of our farmland will ultimately be lost to such “green” initiatives.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday counted 270 solar parks under construction or pending planning permission across the country.

Environmental lobbyists argue that solar power is a crucial part of a sustainable future, but they speak less about the growing doubts that scientists and disgruntled groups of residents are raising.

Aside from ruining the view, solar panels are extremely inefficient at their only job, which is to generate electricity in the midst of the clouds and rain in northwestern Europe.

Then there is the question of disposal.

The materials from which the panels are made have a life expectancy of less than 50 years and are difficult and expensive to recycle, increasing the prospect of discarded piles of panels from which dangerous heavy metals will leak.

And with the majority of panels now made in China, there are plausible fears that some were made in forced labor camps, including those held by members of the oppressed Uighur minority.

“A power supply that is always both unpredictable and intermittent doesn’t make sense,” says Christopher Darwin.

“In a few years, when winter blackouts increase as expected, people will wonder why solar industry sites in the countryside were anything but expensive white elephants.”

The protesters were joined by the actor and local resident John Nettles, who runs a small farm nearby.

Best known for roles in Bergerac and Midsomer Murders, Nettles features today in a video showing the spread of solar parks and in particular the planned mega-development near the village of Pyworthy.

“Enough is enough,” he says. “People have to understand the enormous scale and the visual impact.

‘The huge new project in Derril Water would desecrate the pastoral view in this part of Devon and turn it into an industrialized landscape of solar panels and security fences.

‘It would ruin 164 acres of pasture for at least 40 years. Decision Makers… did not take into account the carbon footprint of producing the 76,000 solar panels on the other side of the world that were transported and installed here.

“They just aren’t low-carbon.”

The UK weather is so unsuitable that it has been calculated that most UK solar farms will never exceed 12 percent of their actual generating capacity over the course of a year.

Solar energy contributed just under seven percent of National Grid electricity last month, despite April being unusually sunny and dry.

In December, the solar contribution was a pitiful 0.67 percent of the total.

Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) think tank, says solar energy doesn’t make sense in this country and the miles of cladding probably do more harm than good.

“There just isn’t enough sun,” he says.

“Maybe in the Sahara, where nobody lives, it makes sense to have those huge, tens of miles long solar panels.

“But in the UK I am concerned about the unintended consequences.

“You would have to cover about five percent of the entire UK land with solar panels to produce enough power to make things work – and only during the day.

“Obviously they don’t work at night. They leave an enormous ecological footprint.

“A single nuclear power plant is located on one square kilometer of land.

“In order for solar collectors to generate the appropriate energy, you need 10,000 times more space – maybe even more.” […]

Direct government subsidies for solar parks were abandoned in 2019 (although previous lucrative agreements are still in place).

However, the rents of solar parks far exceed the precarious profits from conventional agriculture. Devon landowners reportedly earn up to £ 2,000 an acre each year from solar energy.

Some sheep farmers in the county are said to be earning only £ 6 an acre

According to Dr. John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, is likely to only widen that gap thanks to the government’s Net Zero By 2050 initiative.

The beleaguered farmers have realized that they can make a profit – and are hurrying to take advantage of these benefits.

“The net zero drive is so insensitive to cost and environmental damage that a lot of very strange things happen,” says Dr. Constable.

‘The brakes are completely off. It’s an unbridled area of ​​the economy. We are preparing to lose much of the UK’s farmland to a second rate electricity system.

“We have a growing population, so in a few decades we will be 50 percent dependent on imported food.

“Is that a sensible way of using a finite resource, especially after Brexit? It’s a very strange thing. ‘

It could get worse.

Thanks to a gap in the planning system, Dr. Constable believes solar farms are a great way for developers to turn poor quality farmland into fallow land so that it can potentially be built over in the future.

“Some landowners consider this a nutcracker program,” says Dr. Constable.

“Most of the arable land is protected from development – with the exception of solar energy.

“If you own thousands of acres and want an industrial area, solar is a great way to crack the planning nut.”

Whole story

For illustration purposes only, last year subsidies paid to solar farms through renewable commitment allowances cost energy consumers £ 510 million, equivalent to £ 73 / MWh. For this money we only get 6.9 TWh per year, a tiny 2% of our electricity. Smaller systems that are subsidized by feed-in tariffs add to these costs.

Despite the numbers given in the mail, solar use has practically dried up since the ROC subsidies were withdrawn in 2016. (Line 28 reads “Non-accredited systems – ie not subsidized”). Last year only 326 MW of solar capacity was added, an increase of 2.4%.

If the government really plans a big increase in solar capacity, the current desecration of our landscape will be the tip of the iceberg. It is also clear that, except in a few niche cases, new solar developments are not economically viable. Which raises the question of whether subsidy regulations need to be reintroduced.


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