I first got interested in solar energy whilst on a short break in Wiltshire.
It was a strange encounter with a salesman in a shopping village, the odd thing about this encounter was the guy doing the selling, there was something familiar about him I felt.
All through the sales pitch I was thinking this guy is not just into selling solar, he was quite good at it but I knew there was something more to him.
The sales pitch was ok, not at all tedious, after he got through it we began to chat, turned out he had lived in Rugby, played drums in a band and knew all about Spacemen 3 and claimed to know Sonic, ahhh there we go I thought at last, I found out the guy’s secret, he had been or still was a drug user.
The encounter kind of perked my interest in solar and over the years the salesmen came did their sales pitch and disappeared, we missed any window of opportunity to invest but we were still interested in solar.
The last Solar salesman came to our house this year, July 2016, this probably is the last one we will see and his death was slow and agonising.
It first went wrong when he turned up an hour early, I was just getting ready to watch the Moto Gp practice sessions and I forgot all about the solar man.
So I let him in and thought I could push him through his sales pitch and get him back out on the street in record time.
‘So what do you know about solar?’ he asked.
Well, it sounded a great idea, power from the sun, affordable energy for people who needed it, low income families, the less well off but it didn’t work out like that. The only people who could afford solar panels were the well off, the retirees, old biddies who had a pile of hubbies money rotting away in accounts, so they piled into the solar scam, installing as many panels they could fit on to their half a million pound homes, they got a feed in tariff at the maximum rate and everyone was happy as Larry.
This worked out great for them as the tariff was fixed but the government saw how the rich were getting richer and began shaving the feed in tariff down to practically nothing.
The panels got cheaper to make but still nothing could stop the sun going down on the solar sector, they simply shut up shop over night, 80% out of the game leaving people like you.
The technology is basic, you may recoup your investment in time but in 15 years time will these panels still be around, the answer is no, people will be laughing at all those old fashioned solar panels stuck on roofs because technology moves on and I predict that something more practical and higher performing will be invented.
All this means that you are basically fucked.
‘You seem to know a lot about solar.’
‘Not really, I just pick up what information I can.’
From that point on I could tell he was partially disarmed but I knew he was going to try and spin it out and defeat my cynicism, he then went on to tell me about the potassium acid battery they made themselves, at this point the alarm bells are ringing, potassium acid! This sounded to me completely insane, lithium is a rare metal and expensive but potassium and acid sounded to me like bomb making materials and this small solar company based in Derby were manufacturing these things and planned to install them in people’s roof spaces, yeah like hell you will.
He went on regardless until I ramped up my criticism of his sales pitch until he gave up and slunk off, my wife also tore chunks out of him, pulling apart his facts and figures.
The sun is a prime source of energy, we all know that and for commercial applications solar will continue to be viable and can out perform coal, only for one day so far, for domestic use it barely makes sense. An average installation costs 6-7k, by the time you have either paid off the cost of the panels or saved 6-7k in energy bills the world will be a much different place.
It is a sad story because cheap clean renewable power makes a huge difference to the world, global warming is a reality as is poverty.
And as I write this I think about the summer of 76, it was a long hot dry spell which vanquished the reservoirs and dried the earth until it looked like sun baked Africa.
Today the heat is sudden, violent, unnatural spikes in temperature and in the past few years it seems to getting worse, it is reality and some parts of the earth have become uninhabitable displacing huge amounts of people.
My friend says solar is still viable, but so is another world war.