UK Households to be Self-sufficient in Energy Production

24 June 2005

Many UK households could one day be self-sufficient in energy needs and routinely make money by selling surplus electricity from home generators such as solar panels and micro-wind turbines.

This is among the possibilities raised by Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks as the Department of Trade and Industry asks for views on the development of ""micro-generation"" of low-carbon energy by homes, businesses and public buildings.

Launching the consultation in a speech to the Renewable Power Association's annual conference in London this weeks, Mr Wicks said that:

""Power generation has traditionally been about giant stations supplying whole cities, but the future may show that small is big. 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 also come a day when many people will receive a cheque alongside their energy bill.""

The DTI is developing a cross-Government strategy for the development of micro-generation, including micro-hydro, micro-wind, solar power, fuel cells, micro-combined heat and power, and ground and air source heat pumps. Just how much can be done will depend on the costs and how they compare with other technologies.

Proposals are also outlined today for a grant scheme that could see a series of flagship low-carbon buildings over the next six years. Malcolm Wicks will tell the RPA conference:

""Many people are keen to do their bit to help cut climate-changing emissions. They have the potential to make a big difference - 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 neighbourhood. It's all about looking to the future but acting now.""

Renewable Power Association Chief Executive Philip Wolfe said:

""At a time when some may be tempted to focus on 'big solutions to big problems', the DTI is to be congratulated for drawing attention to the significant contribution that micro-renewables can make to delivering the Government's overall energy efficiency and renewable energy targets.

""RPA member companies are at the forefront of the rapidly growing UK market for technologies that can literally put a power station on your own roof or in your own building. We are looking forward to working with DTI and other Departments to help deliver a successful long-term micro-generation strategy with all of the environmental, investment, innovation, export and job creation benefits that this will bring to the UK.""

Green Alliance Director Guy Thompson said: “Microgeneration could play a huge role in tackling climate change and meeting our future energy needs. Not only is it low or zero carbon but it engages people in the solutions to climate change. We therefore welcome today's publication of the government's microgeneration strategy as an indication of its commitment to the development of these technologies.""

The launch of this consultation, together with last week's launch of the Carbon Abatement Technologies Strategy and the Hydrogen Strategy, is just part of the ongoing programme of work to implement the Energy White Paper and achieve the Government's goal of reliable, sustainable energy for all, delivered through competitive markets.

The DTI is seeking views on a range of issues, including: how to support product development and deployment; how to improve communications; what the most appropriate economic incentives might be; the issues around building regulations and planning policy; technical matters relating to connection to the distribution network and metering; and the Low Carbon Buildings Programme

The DTI is working on a cross-government micro-generation strategy as part of the work of the Sustainable Energy Policy Network (SEPN), a network of government departments, Devolved Administrations, regulators and other organisations that are jointly responsible for delivering the Energy White Paper's commitments.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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