The Global Solar Glut – Panels will soon be Very Cheap

In 2010 solar was arguably the fastest growing industry in the world, with installations growing by over 100%.

New Energy Finance has calculated that global capacity has expanded to 41.5 gigawatts as firms flooded into the market, but this outstrips demand of no more than 28 gigawatts.

Firms were attracted to the market by subsidised and feed in tariffs. Baulking at the huge potential costs treasuries in Germany, Italy and the UK have cut them.

Manufacturing firms that expanded capacity on the basis of the tariffs and solar farm developers are left stranded.

For example Evergreen Solar, it invested nearly half a billion dollars in a Massachusetts factory then was never competitive as Chinese firms flooded the market. The factory was closed earlier this year and they have filed for bankruptcy protection.

With the increase in capacity and economies of scale it was predicted that ‘grid parity’ with coal and oil would be reached before 2020 in many industrialised nations, and has already been reached in sunnier nations.

That may be reached a lot sooner is you are buying bankrupted stock as it looks like many other western firms will go down with considerable shorting of non-chinese solar company stocks. This global overcapacity will make it a buyers market and will make it much cheaper to install solar.

Get them while you can.  It makes sense for China to introduce a feed-in tariff to reduce domestic oil and gas production, as imports are leeching at their export earnings and foreign currency reserves as domestic energy consumption grows.  In any event with cost reductions subsidies might not be needed for very long – if grid parity was the only issue.  The business case for feed-ins in China is not to make it cheaper but to speed its rate of adoption by raising awareness, and having a policy that pays for itself through need for less fixed capital investment in new large scale oil and coal power stations, and less oil imports.

Urban Extension – ‘Yes, No, Yes, NO’ – Dibley Actor in Literary Planning Row

Much loved character actor Trevor Peacock has got involved in a ding dong of an LDF row at South Somerset over a 3,700 unit urban extension close to his village.

The options for the growth of Yeovil showed a ‘preferred option’ to the South East of the town labelled East Croker Keyford and Barwick, however poor labelling seems to have exacerbated a partially unnecessary row as East Croker is to the South West of Yeovil with another option coming much closer to the village.

What has caused much of the row was that the village was the home of Nobel Prize winner TS Elliot, he even wrote a noted poem about it.

Trevor is quoted in ‘This is Somerset’

“It’s stupid to build where they are saying.

“There is a good case that Americans will stop coming here if TS Eliot’s place becomes a town.”

English Academics are not pleased.

Marcus Fysh, who set up the East Coker Preservation Trust and has been elected to the district council, said: “We have been approached by professors of English at Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Stanford, all very concerned about the plan.”

To my mind replacing some of the development west of the A37 with an expansion of the modern village of Stoford/close to Yeovil Junction station could completely remove any threat to East Croker’s setting. The land here is much flatter and easily developable than many other options around Yeovil.

Greengauge 21 proposes upgrades to #HS2 to increase benefits with Crossrail and Stratford Connections

Rail consultants Greengauge 21, who came up with the initial ideas for HS2, has proposed a number of enhancements which could increase the cost benefit ratios. Two affect London and also reflect aspirations of TfL

The pressures on Euston station arising from HS2 passengers can be relieved by diverting WCML outer suburban services that currently serve Euston onto Crossrail,
as proposed by Network Rail. This improves the overall value of the Crossrail core investment and would mean that stations to Milton Keynes, including several serving the Chilterns, would join the Crossrail network.
The changes needed at Euston to accommodate HS2 could then be implemented more quickly and at lower cost and with less disruption. It may be possible as well
to reduce the new station footprint and reduce property acquisition costs.
The time penalties from stopping all GWML services at Old Oak Common impose disadvantages on existing rail passengers that can be avoided.
Proposals for a station on HS2 at Old Oak Common should be reviewed against the alternative of creating a WCML-Crossrail connection. It may be possible to improve
journey times, cut costs, and improve the HS2 business case without Old Oak Common interchange. This would also free up development land for regeneration in
the Old Oak Common area, which could be served by a much lower cost surface station on the new Crossrail – WCML interconnection.

The latest justification for the Old Oak Common interchange would be the intense capacity issues at Crossrail. This would resolve these at a stroke, as well as potentially removing the need for an additional tube line as TfL believes is necessary.

Stratford is a critical location that addresses a wide range of challenges for HS2 but that has not yet been considered in the analysis to date.
The HS1 link will allow new connections to be made from the Midlands, the North and Scotland to Stratford in East London and stations in Kent, encouraging much
greater mode shift from car travel. Combining domestic and international passenger services will enhance the economic viability of the through-HS1 services, providing that border controls can be managed. This could be achieved, for example, through the use of coupled 200m trainsets, one international, one domestic.
The provision of international services to the Midlands, the North and Scotland can be optimised by splitting and joining trains at Birmingham Interchange –
particularly valuable if a connection to the MML for services to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East is also provided.
The HS2 – HS1 connection might potentially be built at lower cost and provide more capacity if it is revised to take advantage of the proposed Crossrail incorporation of WCML slow line services.
In combination, these plans would allow direct high-speed rail services to be provided cost-effectively:
– From the West Midlands, North West and Scotland to East London, Kent and Europe
– From the East Midlands, Yorkshire and North East to East London, Kent and Europe.

The WCML – Crossrail proposal may seem unconnected to HS2, but in reality it is an example of an arrangement employed across Europe, for example at Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon in Paris, to provide platform capacity for high-speed rail services in existing central city terminals. The device is to cross-link existing commuter services (which itself offers substantial benefits) and use the space freed up at the historic central terminating stations to accommodate the new HSR services.
It is an opportunity that presents itself here in respect of Euston and the incorporation of West Coast Main Line commuter services into Crossrail at very low capital cost. It offers the additional prospect of significant cost savings in the construction of the HS2 facilities at Euston station

Revised Government Statement on Planning for Schools

Rather sensibly it talks about the development, alteration and expansion of all state-funded schools rather than the rather dodgy idea of one type of school having a fast track over other types.

The big issue this September will be the shortage of school places in existing state funded schools, something which many many local planning authorities are giving utmost priority to and which the SoS provided emergency funding for a couple of weeks ago.

Press Release

Policy Statement
Consultation Report

Quartermain strikes balanced tone on Security Shutters #ukriots #londonriots

Chief Planning Officers Letter today

I am writing to ask local planning authorities to consider the ways in which their planning powers can address these issues.
Where planning permission is needed, for example, for rebuilding work or new security shutters, I ask that you prioritise the processing of these planning applications. In the majority of cases, officer determination under delegated powers will be appropriate.
It is important to ensure that a balance is struck between security and protecting the look and character of our high streets. In addition, the overall street scene should be a welcoming environment at night. In this context, it may be helpful to refer businesses to any planning policies or guidance on shop fronts and security shutters.
You may also wish to consider making Local Development Orders to grant automatic planning permission for the installation of security shutters or alterations or extensions to shops…
Finally, we also propose to consult on whether security shutters and other securitymeasures should be permitted development.

A model LDO on acceptable shutter design would be a very good idea. In London for example the large majority of shops have a fairly standard fascia design and it is possible conceal shutter housing in a box behind the fascia where traditional traditional retractable were housed. See the following diagram – from a PSG I wrote 15 years ago and still operative (even an error on fig.3 remains uncorrected!). Far better examples these days.

Monday Roundup 15th August #NPPF

Another interesting weekend of more daft or dodgy NPPF from ministers and ministerial aids

The daft came from Jack Berry MP aide to Grant Shapps who complained that as the government had gave them a grant  £620,000 they shut up or give the money back.  Can they be so easily bought!  Was Bob Neill MP’s mouth given the weekend off?  Come back Bob all is forgiven.

The dodgy came from Lib-Dem minister Andrew Stunnell, who now appears to be competing with Greg Clark in terms of inventing what the NPPF doesnt say – in this case pretending it supports good design, rather than undermine completely design control as our analysis shows.

 The government has also claimed that the figures show a revival of housebuilding showing the revocation of RSS (which of course didnt happen) was working.  Our analysis shows the opposite, the one region that has kept regional targets, London, is increasing housebuilding, the rest of the UK is dramatically down.

Johnathon Porrit has weighed in on the NPPF with an incisive contribution.

Whilst Ghryff Rhyss Jones, Chair of Civic Voice, sees the reality of localism as ‘bully’ tactics, agree where to build or it gets built anyway.

Sir Peter Hall in contrast sees those localities that stalled on developed had it coming.

Ive started my own response to the House of Commons Select Committee Report on the NPPF, and ive posted the first part.

Ive also listed a series of bullets of what I see as the key problem areas of the NPPF as an outline of what is to come in terms of formal responses. 

The one must read of the last few days, for anyone involved in plan-making, is the letter from the Inspector into the Rochford Core Startegy, which is the first test of the application of the ‘duty to cooperate’ principle.  The letter was much as we predicted.  If a Green Belt authority is implying housing need is displaced elsewhere (in this case Basildon) and they dont want it you wont have a sound plan. What this of course means is that LPAs not meeting their full housing need will need to recreate sub-regional planning structures, possibly even regional planning in some cases.