Quick Links 17th May 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read or just sparked my interest in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.

Could Brexit be the best thing for Europe’s wildlife? [The Guardian]

Solar has a bright future in the UK despite Tory efforts to cloud the picture [The Guardian]

The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures [The Guardian]

April breaks global temperature record, marking seven months of new highs [The Guardian]

Russia’s state-owned nuclear group keen to break into UK market [The Guardian]

China nuclear company will not build Hinkley alone if EDF drops out [The Guardian]


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3 Responses to Quick Links 17th May 2016

  1. David says:

    A comment regarding the article on solar power in the UK:

    My problem with governments idea about deploying and using solar power is this: in my opinion (and I’m no expert, I know) is that solar farms are not the right approach. I think the best way to make solar power work, as a replacement to coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, we need to do it individually; by the household.

    People seem to forget that it does take a lot of energy and resources to make the components for solar collection and storage of that power. It’s only a “clean” source of power after all of the solar cells, panels, batteries, charge controllers and wiring are manufactured and delivered. I think that, if anything, solar power has the potential of being “carbon neutral” as the phrase goes if (and only if) you use solar components to replace other building/infrastructure components.

    So, rather than buying a bunch of shingles for your home (made from oil, tar and other such materials), you shingle you roof with solar panels. The panels collect energy for your home, rather than just absorb heat, which in turn makes your house warmer and thus forces you to run the air conditioner longer. And since you need a roof on your house anyway, the panels are better up there than having to dedicate huge swaths of land for panels of some huge array. You generate the power your household needs, rather than some huge array providing power for an entire community. And if you have extra power, then it can go into “the grid” to help your neighbours.

    I know, today we don’t have solar panels that can double a roofing shingles, but maybe that’s a direction the industry should consider. So, rather than creating emissions to manufacture regular roofing shingles, the emissions go towards solar cells, which would at least be able to generate something a little more useful.

    But, what do I know.

    • Hi David, This is where some background on my thoughts might have helped as mentioned in my newsletter post!

      Solar power in the UK has had a pretty rocky time of it. Initially it was something that only the truly committed did, until the government introduced a subsidy system. The idea being that the subsidy would pay back the cost of the installation during it’s working lifetime. Nice idea and open up the market to many. Unfortunately the initial subsidy was set too high and payback (and then income because the subsidy was guaranteed for a 25 year term) took about 5 to 6 years, for good installations. This meant that the market boomed, and then a slow to respond government decided to massively cut the subsidy (to below what was profitable, and in some cases economically viable) and the market crashed. Each time the market stabilised this has been a repeating cycle.

      I agree with you though that the best way is for installations to be based on what power is needed, and now this is probably the best way to make installations work (roof top or farms). If you are using all of the power generated (including storage to use after sundown) then you will get a return on your investment through lower power bills. I have seen a few solar farms that aim to do this for local communities through a co-op or provident society approach and they work well, because they are set up not to make people a profit but to provide them low cost / free energy.

      In terms of true solar roofs, there are products out there that will replace the shingles / tiles etc. At the moment though they are relatively new and quite expensive. This will change and prices will come down, particularly if they are taken up by commercial house-builders.

      • David says:

        Interesting. I can see why home owners and the solar manufacturers are having such a difficult time with solar energy, when they rely on government subsidies.

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