China & big business cashing in on city’s solar power bonanza
While leafing through our latest copy of Construction News, the ‘Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building’, a headline leaps out: CONTRACTORS EYE UP BRISTOL’S £47M ‘DASH FOR SOLAR’.
Maybe this a reference to Mayor Fergo’s go-ahead earlier this month for a £47m plan to install solar panels on 7,000 council houses and a variety of public buildings in the city?
This is “triggering one of the biggest solar PV projects since the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) was cut in November 2011,” the magazine breathlessly informs its corporate readership. It then lists massive global companies including Lakehouse, Wates, Willmott Dixon and NOTORIOUS BLACKLISTERS Carillion among the contractors who might be interested in this feed-in feeding frenzy. Hardly the kind of local businesses that Mayor Redtrousers and his sidekick, solar-powered windbag Sir Gus Hoyty-Toyty seem so keen to promote at election time!
The article then finds Simon Green from Lakehouse – which grabs lucrative public sector contracts – waxing lyrical: “Because of MASS PRODUCTION IN CHINA, the unit cost of the kit has come down considerably and with the feed-in tariff the same as it was, then you have a large enough project, and the RATE OF RETURN is as big as it was before,” he gushes.
Bollocks. Unit costs have not “come down considerably”; they’ve been driven down. China has unlimited access to forced, slave and child labour and gives workers zero human rights. So they can undercut competitors in European markets by selling panels below cost. Why? To break Europe’s companies and get a monopoly.
Just the sort of practices we should be encouraging here in Bristol for our long-term benefit don’t you think?
Anyway, with £47m to play with, why can’t we manufacture and install the damn things from Bristol?