The UK government has launched a national microgeneration strategy which aims to create conditions under which microgeneration becomes a realistic alternative for the householder, community and small business.
Energy minister Malcolm Wicks launched the programme citing a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Energy Savings Trust study that suggested microgeneration could provide 30–40% of the UK’s electricity needs by 2050. The strategy identifies a range of constraints that are currently affecting the wide-scale deployment of microgeneration, including a high upfront capital cost, inadequate promotion of the technologies and poor information. There are also a range of technical issues. In addition, access to the rewards available for electricity generating microgenerators is more difficult than it should be, the strategy says, while planning and building regulations also act as constraints.
Key measures to improve the economics of microgeneration include plans for the DTI and regulators Ofgem to obligate energy suppliers to develop a scheme that will reward microgenerators for exported power and produce clear guidance covering aspects of renewable energy support mechanisms such as the UK’s renewable obligation scheme.
Looking to the regulatory arena, the strategy will see the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) formulating provisions to facilitate the installation of microgeneration, including an urgent review of local plans.
To address technical constraints the DTI plans to work in partnership with supply companies, network operators and Ofgem to ensure that network and market systems are able to cope with growing numbers of microgenerators exporting electricity and ensure that contracts between domestic generators and their suppliers aren’t hindering take-up. Wiring regulations are also to be examined for potential barriers and the DTI also hints at field trials using both smart meters and microgeneration.
The micropower industry widely welcomed the strategy document, with Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council saying: “This strategy contains many of what we believe to be the necessary measures for consumers, through adoption of microgeneration, to become a substantial part of the solution to the UK’s numerous energy policy challenges.”