From The Guardian – 4 March 2010 – an article written by columnist George Monbiot published on 4 March 2010,  says that the feed-in tariffs about to be introduced in the UK are extortionate, useless and deeply regressive. He outlines why it will be a tranfer of wealth from the poor to the middle class, and how homes may qualify for a solar panel even if the roof has no insulation.

Those who hate environmentalism have spent years looking for the definitive example of a great green rip-off. Finally it arrives and no one notices. The government is about to shift £8.6bn from the poor to the middle classes. It expects a loss on this scheme of £8.2bn, or 95per cent(1). Yet the media is silent. The opposition urges only that the scam should be expanded.

On April 1st the government introduces its feed-in tariffs. These oblige electricity companies to pay people for the power they produce at home. The money will come from their customers, in the form of higher bills. It would make sense, if we didn’t know that the technologies the scheme will reward are comically inefficient.

The people who sell solar photovoltaic  panels and micro wind turbines in the UK insist that they represent a good investment. The arguments I have had with them have been long and bitter (2, 3). But the debate has now been brought to an end with the publication of the government’s table of tariffs: the rewards people will receive for installing different kinds of generators(4). The government wants everyone to get the same rate of return. So while the electricity you might generate from large wind turbines and hydro plants will earn you 4.5p per kilowatt hour, mini wind turbines get 34p, and solar panels get 41p. In other words, the government acknowledges that micro-wind and solar PV in the UK are between seven and nine times less cost-effective than the alternatives.

It expects this scheme to save 7m tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020(5). Assuming, generously, that the rate of installation keeps accelerating, this suggests a saving of around 20m tonnes of CO2 by 2030. The estimated price by then is £8.6bn(6). This means it’ll cost around £430 to save one tonne of carbon dioxide.

Last year the consultancy company McKinsey published a table of cost comparisons(7). It found that you could save a tonne of CO2 for £3 by investing in geothermal energy, or for £8 by building a nuclear power plant. Insulating commercial buildings costs nothing; in fact it saves £60 for every tonne of CO2 you reduce; replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs saves £80 per tonne. The government predicts that the tradeable value of the carbon saved by its £8.6bn scheme will be £420m(8). That’s some return on investment. Read the whole story >>>