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Category — United Kingdom

Solar Energy: Tough Love in the EU

Across the European Union, solar energy is facing tough love conditions as its feed-in-tariffs (FiT) face déjà vu in another round of reduction.

Like in the classic Tale of Two Cities, the world of solar energy today seems filled with the excitement of seeing its revolutionary potential realized by rapid growth, while fearful that falling prices, changing feed in tariff subsidies and looming government deficits will overwhelm it first.

There is no denying solar energy’s promise and potential.  Its rapid growth is a worldwide phenomenon.  Lately I have been catching up on the news reports and changing solar situation in Europe.  A recent report prepared by Ernst & Young for UK’s Solar Trade Association confirmed what we already knew that solar PV prices are falling so fast that by 2013 they will be half of what they cost in 2009. But keep in mind for for on-grid applications, conventional power sources fueled by shale gas in particular are improving too.

New EU Realities

The EU’s big aspirations for a clean energy, low emissions future had run up against government budget deficits. Consequently, the mother’s milk of feed-in-tariffs for qualifying renewables is vulnerable to rapid modification.

Across the EU countries, feed-in-tariffs are being reduced or at least re-evaluated for affordability about every six months.  France is the latest country to announce changes in its feed-in-tariff regime. The UK is scheduled to follow suit slashing its feed in tariff rates in August 2011. [Read more →]

August 17, 2011   3 Comments

"The Wind Farm Scam" by John Etherington (the UK environmental civil war builds)

Editor Note: Author John Etherington, formerly a Reader in Ecology at the University of Wales, has extensively researched the implications of intermittently available renewable electricity generation, particularly wind power. He is a Thomas Huxley Medallist at the Royal College of Science and a former co-editor of the International Journal of Ecology.


 It may be a bit too late to order copies of the just published 198-page The Wind Farm Scam (Stacy International, 2009) by British ecologist John Etherington as a holiday gift, but it’s well worth getting (and giving) copies of the book as soon as you can secure them.

The book should be required reading for every high school, college, and university student — especially in those institutions offering energy and environmental programs.

Although the book written about the UK experience, most of its facts about “wind farms” are applicable worldwide.  It explains wind energy—and its limitations and environmental insults—in easily understood terms  It explains why wind will never provide a significant, reliable source of electricity.

As in the US, “wind farms” in the UK are being built primarily because of government fiat and huge government-forced subsidies, not because of their true environmental, economic, or energy benefits.  Apparently, the tax breaks and subsidies in the US are even more attractive than those in the UK since two major oil companies, BP and Shell, have pulled out of UK “renewable” energy programs with the intent of focusing their attention (and renewable rent seeking) on the US and Canada.

Personally, I found Dr. Etherington’s well-researched and clear-headed discussion of wind energy a very welcome relief from the wind energy madness now underway in the US.

For example: [

December 18, 2009   22 Comments

UK Report: Taxpayer Funding for Climate Alarmism ($11 million of $60 million total)

TaxPayers’ Alliance has just released a new report on the scale that British taxpayers’ money is being used to fund lobbying and political campaigning. We found that £38 million – $60 million – was being spent on taxpayer funded lobbying and political campaigning in just a year, a portion of which aims to secure greater government intervention to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is about climate alarmism and related policy activism, not sober science and free-market reliance.


The Sustainable Development Commission, a public sector body with a budget of over £4 million, writes reports arguing that economic growth is a bad thing and that “natural justice tells us that individual emissions of CO2 must, in the long run, converge around the same per capita entitlement.”

The New Economics Foundation are responsible for the Happy Planet Index, which places Saudi Arabia and Burma above the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States in terms of “achieving, long, happy lives without over-stretching the planet’s resources.” The foundation gets more than £600,000 in funding from public sector organizations.

The Campaign for Better Transport attacks road building [Read more →]

August 4, 2009   3 Comments

W. S. Jevons and UK Coal Revisited (worth re-reading weekend)

In an earlier post at MasterResource, W. S. Jevons (1865) on Coal (Memo to Obama, Part III), the hall-of-fame-economist explained how coal was a godsend to Britain, powering the industrial revolution in a way that renewable energies could not.

I am reminded of Jevons with the headline from the June 17th Guardian, “Carbon capture plans threaten shutdown of all UK coal-fired power stations.” It read in part:

All of Britain’s coal-fired power stations, including Drax, the country’s largest emitter of carbon, could be forced to close down under radical plans unveiled by government today. Ed Miliband, the energy secretary, is proposing to extend his plans to force companies to fit carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) onto new coal plants – as revealed by the Guardian – to cover a dozen existing coal plants. The consultation published by his Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) conceded that if this happened “we could expect them to close”.

Timeless Wisdom from 1865

Here is the MasterResource post (January 31) on Jevons and coal. What would he think today of the politics and policies of climate change in his home country? [Read more →]

June 20, 2009   No Comments