Sunday, 31 January 2010

Why I decided to start writing this blog

TW7H3U74X8NUI believe that if we do not start to intervene soon that the world will end up as a major disaster. The number of people on the planet is growing rapidly, resources and land are going to continue reducing if we continue the way we are, so much so that if we don't start acting soon billions of people are likely to die and large wars breaking out as they major powers fight for resources.

I believe that if we intervene now we can keep the same standard of living that we currently enjoy for little cost, if we wait however we may find ourselves in the position where we have to cut back drastically just to survive. I don't think we need to change the way we currently live, I just think we have the technology available already to substantially reduce the impact we have and done correctly this can be done for little cost. For example I don't have a problem with people eating meat despite the fact it is substantially less efficient than a vegan lifestyle, I actually do so myself, similarly I don't think we need to give up our cars or flying, we just need to change the way they are powered.

Even though I describe these ideas as policies they are really more like a detailed opening for a discussion topic, I'm not a politician and I would think it unlikely the policies would ever be implemented as described exactly but I do think they make a useful base for discussion of an eventual policy that could be implemented.

I'm consider myself to be highly logical, I can look at things from many different viewpoints without allowing my prejudices get in the way, so much so that I'd consider things most people wouldn't even be wiling to think about, I believe that allows me to look at things a lot more effectively that than other people do. I believe I can come up with potential policies that can make the world better with little or no downside, most of the policies/ideas I present on this blog are likely to be environmental given that I believe that is the main problem the world faces but I am likely to include other topics, I already have one planned for health, this policy is likely to be controversial but I believe that most people who read it would agree with the idea.
I also have another fully formed policy in the area of health that I believe would save a lot of lives and improve the standard of living for a lot of people, the policy however would be extremely controversial, hundreds of times more so than the one I am publishing, so much so that even my instinctive reaction to it makes me feel sick despite the fact that I now believe it would only be beneficial, as such I won't actually be including it here, the main reason for publishing the health policy I have is to gauge how ready people would be to consider even discussing the main one I have, the policy I'm publishing would effect very few people and I expect most people would probably be persuaded by my argument but those who do argue against it are likely to be very vocal in their opposition. I hope I'm wrong, I think my main idea could save an awful lot of lives and improve the lives of a lot of others.

My policy to drive down solar panel costs for electricity

Solar panels are currently highly expensive, taking around 30 years just to pay back the initial cost. The aim of the following Policy is to greatly increase demand for solar panels over the next 10 years guaranteeing a certain requirement each year which would allow the companies producing solar panels to greatly increase production with the knowledge the demand will be there which would allow for reductions in the solar panel costs due to the efficiencies of mass production. The policy as I detail it would lead to a gradual increase in demand over the next 3-10 years which would be known well in advance enough time for production to be brought online to meet the increasing demand.

In 2007 solar panel production was at 2826 MW. The UK builds around 180,000 new homes each year, adding solar panels to new buildings is cheaper than adding them retrospectively, installation costs are cheaper and the panel cost will also be offset slightly by the reduced need of roof tiles for the roof. If all new homes in the UK had solar panels this would account for around 500-1000MWs of demand each year, if applied across the EU then 5000MW of demand should easily be achievable, also apply it across the USA and Japan and well over 10,000MW of demand should easily be required and those figures don't even include commercial buildings leading to at least a fivefold demand on 2007 levels, reducing panel costs would lead to further demand as panels are added retrospectively to existing buildings. With such a huge increase in demand mass production should greatly drive down costs, most solar panels are created in a similar way to microprocessors and we've already seen how microprocessors have reduced in price over the last 15 years.

By requiring all new building to install Solar panels the above demand could easily be created, there would be exceptions, some buildings may not be suitable due to overshadowing or being in a conservation area for example, I would also propose an exception for low cost buildings where the solar panel would cost more than around 2.5% of the final buildings sale price. To avoid builders delibrately looking for places that don't require the panels I would suggest adding a small tax to new buildings that are excluded of around 0.25-0.50% of the final sale cost with this money going towards further research into improving solar panel technology.

To avoid greatly increasing demand immediately I suggest that the introduction be staged with commercial buildings over a certain size being introduced from 2013, Other commercial buildings in 2014 and residential properties being required in 2015. On top of the above staging I suggest the actual KW rating of panels be staged so that in the first year after introduction only 20% of the final capacity is required, in year 2 it then increases to 40% and so on every year by a further 20%. Installing small usage on a buildings though is less cost effective so I suggest that the requirement be over an entire builders building production in a year rather than on individual buildings, this would allow for example a building to put 100% on 1/5 of buildings in the first year, it would also allow them to add extra capacity onto buildings and use that to offset buildings they don't want to build on, ie after full implementation has taken place they could put on 200% of the legal requirement on half of their buildings and zero on the remaining half, the same amount of demand for solar panels would be created but a builder could use this to reduce their installation costs, it would also allow them to avoid the small tax on buildings that can't feasibly use solar panels effectively by adding there requirement to other buildings instead, the flexibility of this policy should lead to a substantial saving over having the requirement apply directly to each individual building.

Obviously this policy would lead to a small increase in the cost of new buildings, the builder could easily increase his price so he doesn't lose out, the buyer would get savings in his electricity bills but when he comes to sell his house the solar panel would still add to the buildings resale value, this will likely be less than he paid himself however with the savings on his electricity cost he should overall still be better off than if he had purchased a property without a panel.

As prices of panels reduce I would expect new buildings to actually begin exceeding the legal requirements which would stimulate demand further, another benefit to countries implementing this policy is that demand for new power stations would be reduced and a lot of countries are presently going to have to start building large numbers of stations to cope with increasing energy demands and replace existing ones coming towards the end of there lives.