Solution to solar conundrum could be found right above our heads
I went for a walk this weekend with my good friend Helene Williams, the artist. We caught the train to Faversham, and then came back to Whitstable through Faversham boatyard and Graveney marshes. We managed to get lost along the way. We ended up skirting the back end of Graveney and cutting through several farms.
It was like an adventure. We had no idea where we were half the time but we got there in the end. It took about four hours.
Along the way we were passing cottages and farm houses.
All of them had the same poster in their window. Save Graveney Marshes, it said.
I remember being annoyed when I was walking this way last year. I came to a cottage which had fenced off part of the river bank. I was unable to walk by the creek and was forced to take a diversion. They had one of those Save Graveney Marshes posters in their window.
I thought, “well if you’re going to privatise the river bank, then we can privatise the marshes for our energy needs.”
It occurred to me that these people were NIMBYs and I had no sympathy for them.
On reflection I think I was being a little uncharitable.
Obviously we do need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, but Graveney marshes are such a unique and pristine habitat, it would be a terrible loss both to the wildlife around there, and to us walkers.
Also, on closer inspection, this is not quite the environmentally friendly technology it appears to be.
It’s not only the size – it will be the largest solar farm in the whole of Europe, covering an area greater than Faversham – it will also incorporate some as yet untested technology in the form of a giant battery array, three times larger than any built before.
Given that these batteries can catch fire, and that, when doused in water, they can pour off clouds of deadly hydrogen fluoride gas, and you can see that this could be an accident waiting to happen.
The trick is that it will allow the company to trade in energy, buying it in at the lowest price, and selling it on once the prices have gone up.
This is probably the real reason that they are interested in this project, rather than any environmental considerations.
The whole thing may be just a ruse for the financialisation of our energy supply.
Of course we do need solar power, the question is, where to put the panels? There’s an obvious answer to that. Go stand stand on the top of Borstal Hill on a sunny day and you’ll see: a landscape of roofs warming in the sunshine.
There should be no new houses built without solar panels, and all south facing roofs should have them fitted as soon as possible.
The only drawback to this scheme is that it wouldn’t be making profits for the energy companies.
Which is probably why it isn’t being considered.
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From The Whitstable Gazette 19/09/19
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