Friday, February 02, 2007

Local energy, especially renewable heat, needs more support - Gov Committee

The government should do more to support local energy, according to the House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee.

Preferring the term "local energy" to “microgeneration” because it "is easier to understand and less restrictive", it argues that "there is too much emphasis on electricity production and not enough on local heating schemes - household or community-based." Roughly 1.3 million homes replace gas boilers each year, and Centrica estimates that micro-CHP systems could displace as many as 30% by 2015. It suggests that new housing schemes be fitted with CHP district heating. Furthermore it complains that Government payback figures, particularly for solar water heating panels, are far too pessimistic.

It urges energy suppliers to offer local energy systems with energy efficiency measures as part of a package of services to customers. Planning restrictions on rooftop wind turbines and solar panels should be removed, incentives streamlined, and the electricity distribution firms must pay a proper market rate for any surplus produced by such systems.

It acknowledges thast most forms of local energy are not suitable for all locations or uses. Micro-wind power's potential is "in danger of being oversold", according to one witness, so the government must ensure adequate information is available to consumers.

It says smart metering will be an excellent tool for promoting energy efficiency and export measuring, and calls for a deadline of 1 July 2008 for establishing standards and interoperability and a national roll-out scheme as in Italy.

However, local energy "cannot make a significant contribution in the next decade to closing the capacity gap created by the decommissioning of coal-fired and nuclear power stations—local energy is not a panacea that will 'keep the lights on'."

> Download the report

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