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Comment - Energy and Climate Change

Solar power goes mainstream by David Flint

November 2011 saw a rush of work for UK scaffolders and solar panel installers as householders rushed to beat the government's cut in the feed-in tariff. Despite this ridiculous cut there's good news in the wider market.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance "the price of photovoltaic modules fell by close to 50% during 2011, and now stands 75% lower than in mid-2008". This is mostly due to economies of scale in panel manufacturing. In 2011 manufacturers worldwide produced enough panels to generate 27 GW - that would meet about 70% of the UK's electricity demand if they could run 24 hours/day at full capacity.

New Scientist (4/2/12, p 12) reports that last year's price drop makes solar electricity cheaper than diesel generation in many developing countries. Take-up there, as here, is inhibited by the initial cost. So, despite Cameron and Clegg, we still need the feed-in tariff to make solar panels viable.

First published in the EGP members newsletter, March 2012

Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ