Boost for UK micro power

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said yesterday the government would look at ways of boosting the share of Britain’s electricity from microgeneration.

The government is planning to launch a consultation early this summer on a new strategy in its drive to meet the European Union’s 2020 renewable-energy target. “We will be looking afresh at microgeneration, and any proposals to boost microgeneration, including a feed-in tariff, are ones we are open to consider,” Wicks said.

Feed-in tariffs offer above-market payments for wind or solar-generated power. Supporters point to the success of their use in Germany in encouraging green energy production.

The European commission has suggested that the UK should be producing 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, which would require a seven-fold increase. Though the figure has yet to be finalised, Wicks said yesterday in the evidence session of the energy bill that it was going to be “very high”.

The minister stressed that the new look at microgeneration – where homes, businesses and organisations produce their own electricity – “is not at all challenging the mainstream renewables obligation”.

The government says that the renewables obligation has helped bring about a large increase in the number of projects and calculates that it will soon be worth more than £1bn to the industry.

“I think it is important for confidence, including investor confidence, that we don’t, as it were, change policies halfway through,” Wicks said. “I am confident about the reforms we are making.”