By 2050, we could be seeing 30-40% of our power coming from tiny turbines and roof-top PV and thermal solar panels, says a report commissioned by the DTI, and there could be a significant uptake within just ten years.

A revolution of renewables could also bring significant benefits to the carbon economy and help the UK meet its commitments in reducing emissions.

The report, Potential for Microgeneration – study and analysis, has been published by the Energy Saving Trust and was carried out to feed into the DTI’s Low Carbon Building programme as well as wider policy for microgeneration.

It looks at the perceived barriers that stop ‘alternative’ energy sources being embraced as mainstream and when various technologies might become more cost effective and thus attractive to the wider public.

EST chief executive Philip Sellwood said: “Our findings paint a promising picture for the future energy needs of the UK.

“Over the next ten to 40 years a large proportion of homes in the UK could be generating their own energy, saving tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and helping to prevent climate change.”

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: “This report makes an important contribution to the debate on microgeneration.

“I would like more micro wind turbines, solar panels and other technologies on schools, homes and businesses as they can make a real difference in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions, as well as helping people to understand better where our energy comes from and increase their energy efficiency. ”

The report has been welcomed by industry groups, with Mari Martiskainen, a spokesman for the British Wind energy Association saying: “This report shows that microgeneration technologies such as small wind turbines can have an important role in our energy mix and gives a clear signal to Government on the support mechanisms required to make this market work.

“There is an increasing amount of interest and support for these technologies from politicians, industry and the public alike. It is vital that the Government’s Microgeneration Strategy, due in April 2006, takes bold action to make this potential into a reality.”

Meanwhile, there has also been good news for the biomass sector, with the

Defra ploughing £70,000 funding into supporting fledgling company North East Wood Fuels.

The firm has been awarded the grant to start a region-wide producer group of farmers, woodland owners and foresters to supply wood fuel to markets.

It will be the first step in developing an industry which can offer genuine savings on energy bills for the consumer as producing heat from wood fuel can be cheaper than using fossil fuels.

A successful wood fuel industry will also create more local, rural jobs as people switch to wood fuel.

In addition to the obvious economic benefits to producers and consumers, says Defra, it will lead to better woodland management as landowners and foresters find markets for the products of their currently unmanaged woodlands.

By Sam Bond

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