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Here comes the sun lala lala

Telegraph | News | Christopher Booker's notebook

(A) rather more general question-mark has been raised over (Solar Panels) value by one of the country's genuine experts, Abu Bakr Bahaj, a senior lecturer in civil engineering, who based his figures on the experience of a large panel installation at his university in Southampton.

Since solar panels in Britain generate, on average, only 20 per cent of their potential maximum output (at a cost of £4,500 per kilowatt of installed capacity), he reported in the journal of the Institute of Civil Engineers that the average pay-back time of solar panels is more than 45 years (although 70 years, he wrote, "is a more realistic figure"). Yet the average life of a photovoltaic cell is only 25 years.

In other words, if taxpayers were not so generous in providing £3,000 per kilowatt of capacity, no one in his right mind would dream of installing them.

So rapidly does any mention of global warming turn people's minds to jelly these days, that I suspect before long we shall see not just 10 Downing Street but the entire Palace of Westminster groaning under the weight of turbines and solar panels: all as useless as the politicians below them, whose electricity they will be doing almost nothing to provide.



If global warming does happen I suppose Britain will become a sunnier place. And if it's more sunny the panels will work better.

So if we really do want solar cells to become more cost effective I guess that means we should all be leaving our tvs on standby and go driving about in Hummers for a few years - then the argument for solar panels will hold water.

I think I'll try that argument out on the next greenie I meet - Just to see the expression on his face.

More seriously, does Mr Booker relate whether the good CivEng included the carbon cost of production in his calculations? I do remember reading somewhere (exact location now forgotten) that solar panels actually use up more essential vitamins and minerals in their production than can ever be saved during their operation.

I think solar panels have merit in the right location. Perhaps in sun deficient UK, other options such as wind farms make more sense. It sounds like political greenie hooha however.

Wind farms make no sense either. Wave and tidal power are at least dense enough to be potentially attractive, but wave power seems still to be miles away from success. Tidal power is opposed by the greens cos of the dicky-birds.

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