Future bright for micro-generation
Positive noises from Government about the future of home-based power generation have been given a cautious welcome by environmentalists, but concrete detail is needed, they say.The Department of Trade and Industry has signalled it would like to see energy generation moving away from the traditional model of huge power stations supplying the demands of whole towns and cities towards self-sufficiency for individual buildings.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told delegates at the Renewable Power Association's AGM on Friday he would welcome a new generation of low-carbon homes, businesses and public buildings using renewable sources such as wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and solar hot water heating to meet the bulk of their energy needs.
"Power generation has traditionally been about giant stations supplying whole cities, but the future may show that small is big," he said.
"Some generation will move closer to home giving individuals and small communities the chance to contribute directly to the UK's long-term environmental and energy goals.
"There could come a day when many people receive a cheque alongside their energy bill."
The DTI is now consulting business on the development of micro-generation, looking at how cost effective and efficient the various options will pan out to be.
It has also announced a grant scheme to help fund a series of flagship low-carbon buildings over the next six years.
"Many people are keen to do their bit to help cut climate changing emissions," said Mr Wicks.
"They have the potential to make a big difference as nearly half of all UK carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings.
"This consultation will give people the chance to share their views on how we can best promote the development and uptake of micro-generation and make it easier for people to adopt these technologies in their own neighbourhoods".
But while many have indicated they are glad to see Government looking into micro-generation, they would rather see some hard and fast commitments from Westminster.
Guy Thompson, director of Green Alliance, said financial incentives needed to be put in place to encourage industry to develop the technology and householders to use it.
"Micro-generation could play a huge role in tackling climate change and meeting our future energy needs," he said.
"Not only is it low or zero carbon but it engages people in the solutions to climate change.
The Government's strategy makes some progress but it's disappointing that so few policy measures are mentioned. "Notably, no specific measures are proposed for stimulating uptake and consumer demand for micro-generation, an area where policy support is desperately needed."
The DTI consultation document can be found on its website and responses must be in by September 23.
By Sam Bond