Could Micro-Renewables Provide 6% of UK Energy? Or Maybe More...

solar panels photo

Image credit: Amanda Starbuck

Matthew reported last year that UK microgeneration from wind and small solar could prove equal to 5 nuclear power stations. But a new report from Friends of the Earth seems to be aiming a little lower—according to The Guardian, the report claims that small-scale renewables could offer 6% of the country's energy needs by 2020. But should we be thinking more ambitiously? Admittedly the context of the new report seems to be about specific tweaks to the Goovernment's proposed feed-in tariff. Rather than the proposed 5%-8% Return on Investment that the Government's proposals would provide, Friends of the Earth are arguing that a 10% ROI would yield much larger advances in micro-generation deployment, possibly as high as 6%. So the 6% figure is not, it seems, a technical limit, but a political one. With other measures, including large-scale initiatives to apply micro-generation to schools, hospitals, offices and other government buildings, it seems to me—as a lay person— that 6% is aiming low. (I should also note that the article's headline about "renewables" is misleading—we are talking specifically about micro-generation here.)

As Andrew Simms argues elsewhere in The Guardian, some have shown that the entire world could switch to a zero carbon economy by as early as 2030. Whether such lofty heights are really possible or not seems hard to say, but if you aim high, and get half way there, you're still going to be better off. Somehow, 6% doesn't feel like it will get us very far. Or am I missing something?

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