The beginning of our solar renewables project

We've embarked on a journey to what I hope will be the realisation of a project which will help to make solar energy an accepted norm, not the grudging exception.

As we all know, the three methods of renewable energy in common parlance are wind, wave and solar. They all have advantages and they all have disadvantages.

No solution is going to be perfect but I've come to believe that the current focus on wind energy is misguided and that it will be short lived with current technologies. Huge amounts of public subsidy has gone in to on-shore and off-shore wind farms and they are almost universally hated for their visual intrusion. OK, there are people who love their often sublime elegance and I have to admit to being one of them. In spite of that I haven't seen a singe installation where they have added value to the landscape - not one. The London Array scheme is on the rocks and nobody but the Government seems to have any appetite to fund it.

So what about wave power and its band of little turbine helpers in the rivers and reservoirs? Well we aren't going to stop rain falling, rivers forming and the Moon isn't going to stop pulling the tides any time soon. So it looks good doesn't it? Well not so fast because once again we have problems and they are natural. The damming of estuaries and diverting of rivers has a knock on effect. More worryingly nobody seems quite sure what the effects will be and the debate over the Severn Barrage highlights this nicely. If even the environmentalists can't agree there is a problem with implementation.

The we get the other budding technologies; hydrogen, CHP, geothermal, waste incineration, and Mutley's perpetual motion magnet machine. These are interesting and all have applications (apart from Mutleys, at the moment) but they are very immature and often prohibitively expensive systems if they even work at all. Some only work in certain areas - like those with volcanic activity!

So that leaves us with solar energy; the inefficient and under performing distant cousin of wind and wave.

It is true that solar energy has a bad press in the UK. We've seen houses with a couple of black panels nailed to the roof for around forty years now and somehow we've accepted them but few people actually get around to installing them. Seen as inefficient with an impossible payback they are the Cinderella of renewables.

To their credit, solar systems don't have an image problem when it comes to aesthetics, desirability or environmental impact. After all the Sun will be around longer than the tide producing Moon.

So if we have established that solar is accepted as a technology we are left with the raw economics. What we need is efficiency or a reduction in cost.

Both are coming, and they are coming fast.