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Solar and wind plans must be ‘more ambitious’

Microgeneration could provide 6% of UK power needs

An environmental group has claimed that solar panels and wind turbines could become a common fixture on British homes if the government improves its scheme to incentivise households to take up the technology.

The new scheme, known as a ‘feed-in tariff’ (FIT), is due to be launched in April 2010 and will guarantee above-market payments to households for excess electricity produced by domestic microgeneration technology such as solar panels and wind turbines.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) used figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to calculate that a more ambitious scheme would triple the amount of the electricity produced from domestic microgeneration to 6% of the UK’s total demand by 2020 – equivalent to more than two Sizewell B nuclear stations, or the Drax coal-fired plant. FITs have been successful in boosting investment in microgeneration in other European countries.

Increase incentive

FoE believes that the government’s current plans, which will add an average of £1.17 a year to energy bills, do not incentivise households enough to stimulate mass take-up of the technologies. The group believes that an extra £1.20 on bills – or an average annual increase of £2.37 – would make a significant difference. A national grants scheme is also available to help households with the cost of installation.

You can find out more about wind turbines and solar panels, and whether either of these technologies would be suitable for your home, in our . 

‘Small-scale green energy systems such as solar panels on homes and businesses and community-owned wind turbines could play a crucial role in cutting UK emissions and speeding us towards the development of a low carbon economy,’ said FoE energy campaigner Dave Timms.

‘A tiny addition to UK electricity bills would kickstart a world class scheme that would allow homes, businesses and communities to play their part in tackling climate change, increasing energy security and creating thousands of new green jobs.’

Solar market growing

A separate report published today claims that the European photovoltaic (PV) solar panel market will grow by around 14% in 2010, due in part to the growing availability of more efficient technology at lower prices. Solar water heating systems already supply 60m homes worldwide with hot water.

You should ensure your home is as energy efficient as it can be before considering installing solar or any other renewable technology – including installing loft insulation, solid or cavity wall insulation, double glazing, an efficient boiler and other energy efficient measures. 

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