Grantham Journal letter: Solar farms not the way forward

BIG PLANS An exhibition is on about a plan for a solar farm plan near Bishop's Waltham
BIG PLANS An exhibition is on about a plan for a solar farm plan near Bishop's Waltham
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I read with interest your article on solar developments (Journal, October 3).

The technology behind myriads of photovoltaic cells supplying electricity to the National Grid in any meaningful way does not add up when the figures are examined. Because photovoltaic cells do not produce any electricity during the hours of darkness, and a reduced output during daylight hours when there is cloud-cover, their effectiveness as an energy-source is very severely curtailed.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change publishes annual figures on the effectiveness of various sources of renewable energy. These show that electricity produced from solar photovoltaic developments currently runs at just 10 per cent of their maximum capability. During 2011, this capability fell to 5.1 per cent.

The return in electricity produced is extremely small, and the only reason that developers and landowners show an interest in large-scale solar installations is because of the current very generous levels of government subsidy. This the consumer pays for, through so-called “green taxes” levied on all energy bills.

The vast number of hectares of arable farm land that would be taken out of production for something like 25 years, should any of these solar developments receive planning permission, would be too high a price to pay for such a small return in energy production. Small-scale solar installations may be fine for supplementing the energy supply of a household or farm, but they are wholly inappropriate and massively wasteful as an energy source feeding the National Grid. The winners, in the long-term, would be developers and landowners, at the expense of the majority of consumers.

David Millichap