UK Touts Small, Distributed Clean Power Sources

At a time when it seems that large wind farms are getting all the glory (and ire) in the UK, the government is keenly aware, and growing more vocal about, the possibilities that small, distributed generation projects can bring.

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 UK 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 last week, Wicks said that a power generation sector that’s generally been about giant stations supplying whole cities could be seeing a shift to smaller, more distributed type of clean power. “The future may show that small is big, Wicks 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 also come a day when many people will receive a (payment) 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 for a grant scheme that could see a series of flagship low-carbon buildings over the next six years. “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 neighborhood,” Wicks said. “It’s all about looking to the future but acting now.” 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. “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,” said Renewable Power Association Chief Executive Philip Wolfe. A full copy of the consultation document can be found on the DTI website at the following link below.
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