Home > News > Articles & speeches > No stink on solar panels

That was an interesting exhibition I attended in Tumble last week. On display were plans for a large installation of solar panels on wasteland near Tumble, the site known to the mining community as part of the former Cynheidre colliery. This site hit the news five years ago when proposals were brought forward for an open-air sewage sludge farm – proposals that were turned down by the County’s planning committee, following a vigorous campaign by local residents, horrified at the idea of the stench, the polluted run-off and the constant flow of sewage lorries.
Well, solar panels certainly won’t stink, they won’t affect the existing drainage patterns and there won’t be any lorries, once the construction phase is over. The panels will feed the electricity they produce into the National Grid, using infrastructure already on site from coalmining days; for these will be photovoltaic cells (solar PV) which turn light into electricity, not to be confused with solar panels which heat water. Yes, you need a lot for a modest amount of electricity, and they are not cheap, but recent sharp rises in the price of oil have reminded us how important it is that we wean ourselves off imported oil.
These plans are made financially viable by the premium price paid for electricity from such installations, as from similar domestic ones, the price known as Feed-In Tariffs that Labour brought in when Ed Miliband was Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. These same feed-in tariffs have given the industry the certainty it needs, creating 300 new jobs at the Wrexham solar panel factory and helping secure jobs at our local solar panel factory in Ponthenri.