New Green Jack New Green Jack

60 responses to “Brave New World turns into 1984”

    • Justin Murdock

      So… it looks as though the scheme designed to support building renewables might be successful, so we’re going to stop that malarky?

        • Barry Mason

          Dale on Radio 4 earlier Today was inspirational.

          I’m inviting Ecotricity to work with wonderful Surrey Docks Farm two miles downstream fromTower Bridge on the Thames Path in central London to help us renew and improve our 1990 wind turbine to help us get even greener and show the world the future.

          Best wishes all.

          Barry Mason
          Surrey Docks Farm

        • Solargizmo

          A lot of funding for everyone has been removed not just the green movement. However with the price increases by the big power companies the more attractive home renewable energy systems become so in the long run while it may have hit the industry hard the biggest asset we have is the gready big 6 utility companies forcing prices up, which makes their customers think more. In the long game we still win.

    • Mike Chapman

      I would like to see solar parks, however I think the government is probably right to be reviewing large scale parks.

      There is no ‘pot of money’ however there is a levy on our electricity bills which surly will increase with these large scale systems?

      I love what you do, but there are over 200 planning applications in Cornwall alone for 5MW solar systems, many of which seem to be proposed by business people from outside the UK, thus money from our electricity bills will go straight out of the UK, to probably not be seen again.

      I’m really not against Renewable energy, I study it at university but I think what the government it doing may be necessary.

      I’d be interested in hearing if you think I am wrong, or if I am wrong?

        • Paul Walker

          Hi Mike,

          I think the key issue is the repeated ‘pulling the rug from under your feet’ or ‘moving the goal posts’ by government.

          I seriously considered installing solar panels on my roof, but at my age I am well aware of the ease of the U turn by politicians.

          Although there may be a levy on our bills of £5 per year, I don’t think the public have woken up to the fact yet that the longer we delay, the more it will cost.

          The £400m overall figure is peanuts to what they paid out to the banks. Incidently, why aren’t they repaying the capital & interest? But that’s another story.

          Another issue is that politicians deliberately distort facts to suit their policy.

          Good luck in your studies.

            • Mike Chapman

              Hi Paul,
              I fully agree with you, I feel the key to innovation and development of Renewable Energy is reducing the risk to potential developers, by calling an emergency review of the FIT, the government isn’t doing this well!

              I take on board your point, £5 a year doesn’t seem a lot and we shouldn’t delay in encouraging renewables. I’d just like to see the FIT money stay in the UK with company’s like Ecotricity so that it can be used to further develop Renewables in the UK, not a rich business mans lifestyle overseas.

              As for panels on your own home – I’m pretty sure the FIT will stick for smaller scale systems, I installed a 4kW system on my own home home and am currently trying to find finance to help develop a larger system on my old school. This is the sort of project I’d like to see FIT encouraging.

              I must get back Energy Policy report!
              Thanks for the reply,


        • Justin Murdock

          Given a choice, I’d rather the money stay in the country than go abroad, but I’d far rather we got the renewables – if it takes foreign investors to do it, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be rewarded for it.

          But by buying ecotricity new energy plus I’m already paying significantly more than I need to, so perhaps I don’t react the same way to the five pounds a year estimate in the same way a typical consumer might

        • Dale Vince

          Hi Mike, thanks for your thoughts. I understand where you’re coming from.

          As Paul says below, the total feed in tariff cost is now capped at about £5 per year per household – it’s not really much to pay to support such a vital industry – about 1% on a typical electricity bill.

          When oil prices double, as they have in the last two years (and will surely again) electricity bills rise by some 30% – just for context. That 30% goes to energy traders and speculators, and oil companies – it’s not a rise in cost more in ‘value’ that can be extracted through the ‘free’ market.

          This £5 will pale compared to the support that the new wave of Nukes gets. The governments ‘overhaul of the energy market’ is merely a way to enable new nuclear and clean coal – through our electricity bills.

          And lets not forget the cost of cleaning up the old nuke industry is about £120 Billion – all paid by us. On top of the £50 Billion it took to build them. Renewables are the (very) poor cousin to that.

          WRT keeping cash from UK renewables support in the UK – this is an issue that’s been used against Big Solar – that foreign developers seek to gain from it. I understand it but……

          It’s worth bearing in mind that the UK has six big energy companies – four of whom are either owned by foreign utilities or governments. Npower are owned by RWE (German utility), Powergen (as was), by e.on (German utility) ScottishPower by a Spanish utility and my own favourite last – EDF, 90% owned by the French government.

          In this case it’s not just renewables support that finds it’s way out of the country (1% of energy bills in the case of FiTs) – it’s all profits.

          It’s just the way it is. The UK opened it’s market first and most fully – France has yet to do so, fifteen years later, but benefits from owning a big chunk of the UK industry.

          Hope this helps.


            • Mike Chapman

              Thank you very much for your reply, I hadn’t though of the big 6 mostly not being British. I can certainly see where you are coming from now. I appreciate maybe I am seeing it from an idealised point of view, but I would still like to see more social and economic benefits staying within Britain.

              On a different note which isn’t really related, and this probably isn’t the ideal place to ask but it seems the most direct way to ask- I sent a letter including a CV a couple of months ago regarding a summer internship. I understand you are very busy and may not have time to read all the letters you receive but I would be grateful to know if you received it.

              Thanks again for you time,

                • Dale Vince

                  Hi Mike, I haven’t seen your letter myself, but that’s not surprising in it’s self. I’ll ask someone to look into this to confirm if we received it or not.

                  Sorry you’ve not heard back from us, if we have your letter.


    • Damon Hart-Davis

      I agree with you Dale; we should have much more like German scale PV, ie a couple of orders of magnitude more than we have now, and the government should not be resiling on PV farms.

      I think that implicitly a large part of the FiT scheme was to make NIMBYs think hard and convert some of them to YIMBYs (or YOMRs?), and solar farms won’t achieve that.



        • Dale Vince

          Hi Damon, hear what you say, but large scale solar farms don’t have NYMBY problems, they fly through planning.

          As such it’s a chance to build new capacity in renewables, rapidly, and make up to a degree for the awful speed at which onshore wind moves.

          I think this is what’s scared the pants off the government – Renewable energy taking off. And of course taking place in the countryside….:)


            • Damon Hart-Davis

              Hey, Dale, I’m all for more PV as you may already know having bored on about it before to you, and I don’t much care whether it’s on rooftops or in solar farms as it’s all good IMHO.

              We just need to get the next 10–20GW+ up one way or another! B^>



              PS. But I’m still for making the knee-jerk NIMBYs/BANANAs think twice when they realise that opposing all renewables for the sake of being difficult also throws away a nice income for themselves. Maybe we should have an earmarked NIMBY-FiT tariff fund, where we give an extra 10% to any ex-sceptic that goes with the science and puts up PV on their property!

                • Dale Vince

                  Hi Damon, I’m up for both, domestic and big solar. It’s just that with there always being a limit on time and money – especially these days – the sensible thing to do is enable big solar, not disable it.

                  If we can only afford big or small then the choice should be big – because we get 50% more green electricity for the same budget.

                  There needs to be a really good reason to go the other way IMO – I think this government isn’t telling us the real one. Probably because it won’t bear a lot of scrutiny….:)


                    • Damon Hart-Davis

                      Ha Dale, that’s your mega-capitalist MBA old-Etonian banking background showing … oh wait … B^>

                      I continue to think that some domestic-scale PV in the mix is good for political and engineering reasons. And though it is expensive, lack of it, like ignorance of most of the populace about RE, is ruinous.

                      Anyhow, you have my EcoBond money to plough into your solar farm, so all power to your elbow…



                    • Dale Vince

                      Thanks Damon, No argument from me on that, there should be some small scale solar, it’s useful hearts and minds stuff.


    • Nick Seruwagi

      Just wanted to say what a good and honest article. I couldn’t agree with you more.


        • Dale Vince

          Thanks Nick, appreciate that.


    • Anthony Ratcliffe

      Am I missing the point here, but is Solar Power Generation viable without a subsidy, or do the businessmen want it to be subsidised to maximise their profits?
      Surely, it is viable without subsidies? If so, why would the Ecotricity Solar Farm be the last?
      As an Ecotricity supporter/customer I’d like to know.

        • Mike Chapman

          Unfortunately Solar PV isn’t currently viable without subsidy, however hopefully the money being put into the solar industry will help the technology to become cheaper and one day viable without subsidy.

          Don’t let this put you off it though, the nuclear industry was subsidised when it first started!

            • Paul Walker

              And the taxpayer is still subsidising the nuclear industry dispose of its toxic waste, although Chris Huhne uses lexical semantics to disguise this.

                • ferrand stobart

                  If you are a commercial concern, able to offset capital costs against depreciation, AND take the long view of energy cost inflation, on a 25 years life Solar PV is a good investment, Ford at Bridgend put panels in about 1998, now “paid for”

                  Also wafer re-cycling is now starting, so PV has an “end of life” value

                  Solar water heating lasts even longer, a near by house had it in stalled in 1973 !!

    • The Ville

      Some thoughts:

      1. Where are most Tory votes?
      2. What would happen to those votes if a lot of fields were covered in silicon sheets?

      I think a Tory government is unlikely to openly encourage big fields of solar panels. They would soon get their supporters running to their rural MPs complaining about the views.
      It’s an addition to the poly-tunnels and wind turbine debates.

      On a personal note, I am concerned about land use in the UK. We need to grow as much food as we can, I hope these fields of solar panels are placed on land that is not suitable for agriculture??

        • Dale Vince

          Spot on thoughts.

          It is a countryside issue IMO. Onshore wind is currently hobbled by planning – this government will make that harder, they say.

          But big solar has been a revelation in that it has no planning problems – it flies through – to date.

          Hence the policy ’emergency stop’ – rampant renewables are definitely not on this government’s agenda…:)

          Good thoughts on land use. We must of course ensure that we have enough to grow our own food, or most if it.

          There is plenty of marginal land though, even in the countryside – it’s possible to avoid all arable land and use land from say Category 3 downwards (avoiding 1 and 2).

          Our own plans are to use our solar projects to create nature habitats at the same time – giving a bit of a double win – green energy and some form of refuge to hard pressed birds and bees (both in great decline in the UK due to over farming..)


    • Damon Hart-Davis

      Lots of PV can go on urban/industrial land/roofs where it doesn’t conflict with any other use.

      Then there are sites such as (say) on top of old mine workings in Cornwall where the land isn’t safe/good to do much else with, and capped landfill sites have been another interesting choice elsewhere.



        • Dale Vince

          Agreed, there’s plenty of other land.

          Roof tops aren’t so straight forward though, often there are structural issues with industrial roofs, they’re not usually engineered to take such additional large loads.

          That said, there is scope – it’s just that they are not an alternative to large scale (land based)solar as I’ve heard one government minister suggest.

          Lot’s of marginal farm land though, which won’t grow crops but could support wildlife and PV.



        • Nick Leaney

          The landlord vs tenant issues of roof top on industrial buildings is a big hurdle for the industry – great if owner occupied but large percentage of suitable large scale units are institutionally or propco owned.

          We have done a lot of work recently with large landlords on this and they are not convinced of the investment benefits, not least the discrepancy between a 25 year FIT led roof top lease to a solar provider vs. a 5 or 10 year occupational lease inside the building – has potential for negative rather than positive effect on residual values of the property.

          Not insurmountable but equally not as straight forward as the Govt and other anti standalone parties would lead us to believe.

    • Nick Leaney

      Dale – a good well thought through piece.

      It would be a shame if the large scale solar parks do not feature in the UK portfolio of green energy options we have available to us in the UK.

      As in any progressive thinking in the UK there will be more detractors than supporters as they tend to shout loudest and those who do support are seen and decried as having ‘a personal financial interest’ rather than merely wanting to see renewables growth but it is lost on many that in order to have any robust future it requires investment viability in order to be a long term sustainable and credible alternative to fossil fuels.

      Just this weekend the Govt. announced a need to wean ourselves off oil – lets hope this is reflected in the outcome of the FITs review – there is momentum in the renewable energy market in the UK for the first time in a generation or more – it will be more than disappointing to lost that with ill thought through knee jerk policy u-turns.

        • Dale Vince

          Hi NIck, I saw that story the other day, about how the government are coming up with a crisis plan to wean us off oil.

          Thought it was a bit rich coming, as it has, just as the same government says we can’t afford big solar. And we can only spend £5 a year per household on feed in tariffs – there’s weaning and there’s weaning – at that rate it might take 100 years…..:)

          Maybe this oil crisis will change their minds – though I suspect the ‘wean off oil’ story was just posturing.

          I mean it shouldn’t take a crisis in Libya to convince anyone that there is a looming energy problem….. Have they really only just woken up to this, you’d hope not…


    • Ted Marynicz

      I can’t quite agree on the point that ‘there is no limited pot of money’ for FiTs even though there is none in the legislation per se.

      The FiT rates have been specifically selected to incentivise a predicted level of investment in renewables (see the Poyry report for details). Once that level is met then FiTs will be no more as it will have achieved its objectives.

      Couple that with the degression of rates for new systems and the scheduled reviews that are designed to take market response into account and the pot of money allocated to FiTs is definitely limited.

      So if this money is being paid to solarfarm developers (which I happen to agree they should get) then less will be available to incentivise other smaller projects.

        • Dale Vince

          Hi Ted, interesting point.

          There’s not an unlimited sum that can or will be spent on FiTs, for sure – so in a way, looked at that way you’re right – there is a practical (though undefined?) limit to FiTs.

          But my point really was that there’s not an actual limit in the legislation (no pot). I don’t dispute that it’s not a blank cheque. The world doesn’t work that way.

          Interesting how both can be true – no pot, but there is a limit, that’s quite amusing.

          No doubt the FiT scheme was envisaged to get a certain amount of renewables moving, perhaps in sectors that until then were barely moving or not at all.

          And the reviews as you say clearly are designed to adjust the rates paid, and the scheme itself, according to market take up.

          And there will be a mix of technologies in there – some succeeding more than others, according to market realities (as adjusted by tariff rates).

          Big solar was one of those, intended participants, whatever the government says.


    • Anthony Ratcliffe

      I’m currently looking at having solar panels installed onto my house roof, but I have a few nagging doubts.
      One is that I’d like to buy UK made solar panels, does anyone know of UK manufacturers or installers using UK made solar panels. I’d prefer my money to help create and sustain UK green jobs, as opposed to some factory in China paying slave wages and lets not forget the environmental cost of transporting the panels 1000’s of miles.
      Secondly, my house is southwest facing, so is it worth installing solar panels?

        • Damon Hart-Davis

          SW roof is fine.

          Sharp make panels in Wales IIRC.

          It make take less energy to make them some distance away, eg nearer the input materials, or with a more efficient plant or process, which is one reason that I use Sanyo HIT panels.



        • Mike Chapman

          Romag is another UK manufacturer who pretty good!

            • Damon Hart-Davis

              Romag has indeed been very responsive to my enquiries.



                • Anthony Ratcliffe

                  Romag Solar Panels were fitted yesterday (by Barrier Energy) and are now currently producing power 🙂

                  Just waiting for the Certificates to come through and then I”ll be joining Ecotricity’s Microtricity scheme and collect my FIT’s 🙂

                  Thanks to all who replied to my posts, the information was greatly appreciated!

                  Anthony R

                    • ferrand stobart

                      I see in today’s business news that Romag has “filed for administration” [gone bust] ?
                      Did you get your certificates OK ?

                    • Anthony Ratcliffe

                      Ferrand, you get the certificates of the approved installers, not the Solar Panel manufacturers, so yes, I got thecertificates just over a week ago and sent them off to Ecotricity.

                      From the little I read today, looks (to me) like it the company was in trouble because someone (ex-chairman John Kennair) cocked up big time or had their fingers in the till!

                      Still, might be better in the long run to be owned by Gentoo, lets hope so.

    • Anthony Ratcliffe

      Thanks all for the information and comments.

      Anthony R

    • derek


      If you have the room you could install a tracker system for your pv panels which are 30% more efficient than a fixed array. I have installed a Lorentz 2000.


        • ferrand stobart

          There is a solar “geometry” which if fixed and tracks automatically. Only used so far for solar heat, PV is being worked on

        • Anthony

          Thanks Derek, but my humble abode isn’t big enough for a tracker system.
          I’ve decided to use Romag and one of their preferred installers Barrier Energy, just waiting for a quote.
          Thanks again


    • Christopher Goff

      What do you say to George Monbiot, who says that solar in the UK is a colossal waste of money? I was shocked to find him advocating for nuclear power on the premise that nuclear will only be replaced by fossil fuels, and that renewables can never provide more than about 70% of our energy needs.

    • Callum Scott


      Enjoying the blog, great to hear the views of someone involved heavily in shaping how we are going to generate our electricity in the future. As a budding civil engineer who has a real interest in alternative energy (studying at Heriot-Watt University and currently doing my dissertation on Ground Source Heat Pumps) I was curious as to whether or not there are any employment opportunities for someone with my background to get involved with Ecotricity as it looks like a great company to be a part of. Keep up the good work.


    • Rick Pook

      Hi Dale, I heard you on the Beeb’s Today programme a couple of weeks back, and recognized your description of the caravan on that hilltop above Stroud. It was there I heard you describe your dream of that first wind turbine, and that was probably the last time we met! This is Rick Pook of the Dog and Vomit, from the halcyon days of Glastonphant etc. I feel compelled to write to say “bloody well done mate” in seeing it through. I’m still a total believer in the renewable energy path, and, in my own modest way, have followed a parallel course. Based in the Caribbean on my sailing (wind-powered) yacht for over ten years now, I am involved in supply and installation of both solar PV panels and wind turbines on both yachts and ashore………but these are on a considerably smaller scale than the ones you deal with! There are also plans to build a fully energy self-sufficient house on the island of Dominica here. Keep The Faith!!

    • Paul Garbett

      Thank you for the original blog post – I’m on the verge of signing up to get solar PV on my roof and had a small panic when I saw the headlines about the changes to FITS. Having satisfied myself that my plans weren’t affected I then got to thinking – this doesn’t make any sense. I read the press release, checked what I already knew was correct and here I am seeing a cool, calm, clear assessment of the true situation.

        • Anthony Ratcliffe


          Trust me, I had Solar PV panels fitted last week and it makes better sense than keeping the money in the bank, assuming you intend staying in the house for 10+ years.
          I don’t know how taking a loan out would make the figures look, but I’m fortunate enough to be able to pay cash.

    • Chris

      What if you don’t intend to stay for ten years? How much does it add to the value of the house? Enough to recoup your investment?

        • Anthony Ratcliffe

          Not sure Chris, but I would say having a guarenteed income for 25 years must be a good selling point in todays market!

    • Daniel Flounders

      Ecotricity should consider offering referral discounts to customers. My broadband provider does it and I have referred over 12 customers to them so far. This saves me over £10 a month but also means the ISP is quids in.

      Of course, I aren’t with them for referral reasons, I am with them because I get good customer support and decent internet. I would recommend them anyway.

      But, there are times when I just cannot convince not-so-green- people to change to ecotricity. If I could give them a monetary reason I’m sure they would be more inclined.

      You see, it’s all great and dandy offering people green electric, but at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, people will nearly always choose greed over green.

      Goodbye from Yorkshire, oh and where are all the northern windmills…. I see two up here and the rest down south?


        • paul

          Hiya Daniel,

          Ecotricity are actually in the early stages of testing a customer referral scheme… you should be hearing something shortly about this.

          Ooop norf? We’ll – hopefully there’ll be some news regarding north of Knutsford soon 🙂


            • Anthony Ratcliffe

              Paul, I hope you do build some wind turbines up here soon. Knustford is only 20 miles away 🙂

    • Corina | electric car

      It’s obvious…the government had to do something about the positive future that we could have lived in…They act as if they don’t live in the same world as we do. Why stop a change in a better place? It’s absurd,really!

    • Graham P

      Dale, any chance we could see the Nemesis at this London Eco Motorshow to be held 8th – 11th September 2011?

      Graham P.

      PS I tried to leave this comment under the Nemesis section but comments on that thread seem to have been turned off.

    • David Humphreys

      Hi Dale, now that most of the FIT has been reduced to large scale projects, would you consider offering free pv panels on domestic buildings (as some of the big energy companies are doing now) in return for the higher FIT. I am seriously considering the free option as simply cannot afford to buy them myself. I want to see an increase in renewables so this is a relatively easy way to do it and I am not bothered that I would only get a modest reduction in electricity bills (at the moment, sure to get better as costs continue to rise as fossil fuels diminish) as opposed to the more attractive FIT return. I know you weren’t so keen on the domestic side but maybe now it is (sadly) more viable. After all I would rather the money from the FIT get ploughed back in to renewables if you were to offer the service. I’ll even train up to be a fitter if that helps!!

      Keep up the good work


    • Gaz

      Thanks for the info here, i just got a letter from my gas & lekie supplier saying my fuel bill will be going up 18% next month.
      so im def going to fit those panels now.