UK High-Street Renewables Trend Short Lived
Back in 2006, Bonnie posted with great excitement about domestic wind turbines becoming top sellers at B&Q;, one of the UK’s largest chains of home improvement stores. But while B&Q; have continued to push their sustainability agenda through other initiatives, including a wind-powered distribution center and stopping the sale of patio heaters, according to The Guardian at least, the store’s brief flirtation with off-the-shelf microgeneration may be coming to an end. And they are not alone.
The wind really has changed direction since 2006. Back then, Currys breathlessly announced three stores would sell electricity-generating solar panels for our homes, while B&Q; trumpeted the news that you could buy a £1,500 micro wind turbine from its stores. Fast forward to today and it transpires both chains have quietly shelved their renewable energy products.
The retreat from microgeneration isn't a huge surprise. Micro wind in urban areas is now generally regarded by homeowners and the Carbon Trust as unsuitable for many locations, with the Trust suggesting some turbines will actually consume more CO2 through their production than they save through energy generation.
While my initial reaction to this news was disappointment, as the Guardian points out, it may not be as big a deal as I thought. Energy generation is a serious business, and most microgeneration projects should be seen more as a long term investment than as something to occupy you for a weekend.
While the idea of folks popping down to their local hardware store and throwing up a few panels is appealing - I’d much rather have home owners going to dedicated renewable energy companies that can help them determine if microgeneration is right for their home, and which technologies might suit them best. Sure, many renewable energy projects are easily achievable by a skilled DIY enthusiast, but I’ve known enough tinkerers in my time to worry about a sudden spurt of solar panels on north-facing roof tops. Maybe some things are best left to the experts.