Friday, February 03, 2012

Energy policy and visual blight

click photo to enlarge
In recent times a disfiguring tide of supposedly environmentally beneficial technology has swept across the country, inflicting high-tech litter wherever it has flowed. The gaze of every passer-by notices the interlopers, and the eye-sores themselves will undoubtedly become semi-permanent fixtures across rural and urban landscapes. I refer, of course, to... roof-mounted solar panels!

Given that much UK housing is mediocre in both style and substance the affixing of these panels to roofs makes buildings look abysmal. They are always a negative visual contribution. The environmental blight that they are responsible for is, to my mind, worse than that caused by wind turbines. That they make some sort of green contribution to the generation of electricity is, no doubt, true. But what is also true is that it comes at a very high price. And what I find truly remarkable is that I have heard not a single voice raised against them. Perhaps that's, in part, because the people who have fitted them have been bought off with the profit to be made from the feed-in tariff and their eyes have been blinded by the glitter of the promised piles of money.

In my part of the world I see these glossy abominations fitted to roofs new and old, to slates, concrete tiles and pantiles, their sleek, black rectangles like alien sores, destroying any architectural integrity that a building may once have had. It seems strange to me that a proposed wind farm stirs up oppositions whenever and wherever it is mooted but these accretions are meekly accepted. Could it be that the small scale, virus-like spread of roof-mounted solar panels will mean that people will wake up to the environmental damage they cause only when it's far too late? I can't help feeling that a programme of retro-fitted house insulation of a magnitude greater than the current weak efforts would have achieved greater results at less monetary and environmental cost.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 238mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On