Solar, money and motivation

What will it take to get somewhere close to the cuts in carbon that are required? Where will the motivation come from?

After the commitments of Paris, the cuts to the tariffs paid for generating electricity from solar photovoltaics in the UK, are perverse. Even more so when set alongside the seemingly bottom less pit for subsidising nuclear and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry. It is easy to blame the Government but is that where it ends? Apparently this cut undermines the industry – presumably because people will not now install panels… Jobs will be lost. But wait a moment… The new tariff rate is 4.39p per kW and, doing some quick calculations*, it should still be enough to pay back the costs of the panels and give a small bonus on top.

So why won’t people install panels? Is it because they won’t make enough money? Is that a failure at the heart of the issue – that it is all about money? “Install solar panels now – you will get a better return on your investment than with any bank account”. Has this been challenged? Not really. Where are the voices saying,

Do it for love – of your children and their children

Do it because you care about the world you live in

Do it because that is what a good person would do and you are a good person

The fragility at the heart of an approach that focusses on money is now exposed. It won’t make you that much money so why bother. That is where we are. Or maybe not. Maybe fears about the impacts of the cuts will not be realised. Maybe people are better than they are being given credit for and are motivated by values deeper than greed. Maybe they will do it because they can and it is a good thing to do. Maybe.


* Assuming a 3kW array, costing £5000, Generation Tariff of 4.59p per kW, export Tariff of 4.64p per kW, price of electricity of 13p per kW (and all of these rising at an annual rate of 3% per annum), and 50% of electricity generated used at home.


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