Solar power is now free

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From today’s Torygraph:

They have become a commonplace sight across Britain: rows of darkly-winking panels nestling across rooftops, quietly generating free energy for the inhabitants below during daylight hours.

Free energy, indeed. The coffee you bought 1 year ago does not provide free caffeine. The ticket you bought six months ago does not provide free air travel to New York. Solar energy is not free.

And this piece, by Leonie Green – a PR person for the solar industry – does not improve. Of course she has rather low standards of intellectual rigour, having once claimed that Britain’s status as a cloudy high latitude country meant solar worked wonders here.

Here are a couple of other claims the Torygraph seemed worthy of printing:

Technically, if solar’s current rate of growth continues, its output could match world power demand in just 18 years time.

Technically? Perhaps fantastically, delusionally, some other word, would have been appropriate.

Then we have this one:

In the UK, solar is more “home-grown” than technologies – so every unit of investment results in a larger amount of value accruing to the UK than offshore wind, say, or nuclear.

How is solar power “home-grown” in Britain? Is a solar panel made in China from materials largely mined in China, Brazil, Australia and Chile “home-grown”? Solar power is not “local” or “home grown” energy, it is one of the best examples of globalization you can imagine.

And then:

Maximising the power of the sun can free us from the geopolitical wrangles of importing fossil fuels. No more paying for the coal that funds Vladimir Putin’s empire; less dependence on gas imported from the Middle East.

Well, here is a different image. Vladimir Putin sitting in Moscow in the middle of winter wondering just how Britain will keep the lights on with solar panels on Christmas Day when there is absolutely no sun. And these people, in China, that we buy our solar panels from, are they saints?

Perhaps solar isn’t free and doesn’t free us from the world’s problems entirely.