The Global View

Microgeneration – with grants, it’ll thrash nuclear

plug.jpgIf you listen to the Guardian, microgeneration (solar panels on people’s roofs and similar wee energy projects) could soon beat nuclear energy in a fight. It reminds Greenbang of the infamous 40 midgets versus a tiger wrestling match, although the outcome for the micro element there wasn’t so favourable there.

Says the Guardian, if we all started topping off our homes with small wind or solar generating units, we’d be creating the energy equivalent of five nuclear power stations.
The Guardian’s thinking was inspired by a new report by the Department for Business, Energy and Regulatory Reform, commissioned to investigate microgeneration. The Micropower Council (not affiliated to the midget wrestlers, who doubtless had a lot of micro power) has summarised the findings like this, for your reading pleasure:

  • With ambitious policy measures, up to 9 million microgeneration systems could be installed by 2020, producing as much energy as 5 nuclear power stations. This compares to an estimated number of current installations of less than 100,000.
  • By 2030, microgeneration equipment could be saving thirty million tonnes of CO2 – an amount equivalent to removing the emissions from all Heavy Goods Vehicles and Buses from UK roads.
  • If consumers are to take up microgeneration in these numbers, they need to see a compelling economic reason to do so – environmental benefits are not sufficient on their own to create a genuine mass market.
  • That legally binding government targets for microgeneration, supported by concrete policy measures, would improve the confidence of those investing in the sector.
  • A government target of 2-3 million units installed by 2020 could readily be met through a combination of cost-effective measures

That a range of these support measures would be needed, including:

1. A long lasting and consumer-friendly financial incentives scheme to stimulate substantial uptake (to deliver the equivalent of over 40p/kWh in above energy price for wind and photovoltaics, 5p/kWh for microCHP and 2p/kWh for sustainable heat technologies such as heat pumps and solar thermal systems).
2. Flexibility for consumers to choose to receive these incentives up-front or spread out over a long period to help with the high initial costs of equipment and installation.
3. Adhering to the policy of zero carbon new build housing from 2016 and all buildings in 2019, with clarity over the extent to which developers are allowed to offset their consumption using offsite electricity generation.
4. Large scale field trials or an early public procurement scheme to support technologies that are not yet ready for full-scale commercial production.
5. Continued consumer campaigns to improve consumer accounting for energy-based decisions, focused on lengthening consumer time horizons when considering energy purchase.

4 thoughts on “Microgeneration – with grants, it’ll thrash nuclear”

  1. As electric bills rise, a line-up of frugal little consumers forms at the Solar Shop’s door, looking to save a buk! They will also buy super-insulations when patents and Military interests release them to the public! Imagine, cutting air-conditioning costs in half by sealing up your home with this stuff, heating, the same! McMansions, the wild eyed commission salesman’s craziest dream, are dead, and folks now look to “Earth-Ark” survival techniques to cut mortgages and running costs, as the dollar sinks rapidly in value! We can build really cheap, comfortable zero running cost, zero upkeep homes with gardens, greenhouses, aquaculture, and composting built in, and if need be in dry climates the Swedes have already developed comfortable “Dry” toilets for the world, the Indians and others bio-gas “it” for consumer gas! We can so live more economically and compeditively, by using our technologies in America!

  2. Jarkko Nieminen

    And how would microgeneration make more sense than building fewer large scale renewablepowerplants that would be more effcient and have lower €/kwh cost?

  3. What they fail to take into account is the energy required to produce those 9 million microgeneration units. You would need the 5 nuclear power plants just to provide all the energy to produce all the panels.

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