British Homes Could Generate Own Power by 2020

A British independent think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, says homeowners could be generating their own electricity in less than 20 years.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-10-26 [] In a new report, ‘Power to the People,’ IPPR says government must reject huge new nuclear power stations and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It says technologies are becoming available that will allow residential central heating boilers to generate electricity, as well as heat, but using less energy than current boilers. The report calls on the British government to encourage small scale energy production that reduces emissions and to tackle climate change through an overhaul of energy policy that will encourage a more decentralized energy system that will provide heat and electricity more efficiently than today. Individual household control would drastically reduce the amount of energy that is wasted, because one-third of energy currently used to generate electricity actually reaches the consumer. Power stations create heat as they generate electricity, but this is allowed to escape and the report says more energy is lost in Britain’s cooling towers than is needed to heat every building in the country. By 2020, homes will incorporate solar panel roofs, solar thermal water heating systems, remote switching for water heaters and refrigeration equipment, it predicts. New public buildings will have some form of built-in self generation or renewable heating and cooling. Household fuel production, combined with rapidly improving economics of renewable energy, will mean that Britain can provide its energy needs in a secure way, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels and phasing out nuclear power. “The 20th century energy system was all about building massive power stations to make cheap electricity,” says report author Chris Hewett. “The next generation of energy technologies is able to generate power and heat, more cost effectively in the homes and offices where we need it.” “Such a system is far more secure, flexible and clean than returning to the nuclear age or limping on with fossil fuels,” he adds. “The government’s energy review must design policy for this century, rather than pandering to the industries of the last.” To follow this path, the report claims that government will have to create the right market framework which must encourage a decentralization of electricity generation and the efficient use of heat, rather than penalizing it, as IPPR claims is done under the New Electricity Trading Arrangements have done. ‘Micropower zones’ could be set up to demonstrate the efficiency and security of a decentralized energy system, and economic incentives to cut energy use and to reduce carbon emissions must be stepped up, including an increase in the Climate Change Levy, mandatory emissions trading for the energy industry and consideration of a domestic energy levy.
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