Britain extends support for micro-power generation

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain on Monday said it had extended the timeline for support, but added no new extra money, for small-scale electricity installation using renewable energy sources, called microgeneration.

Britain's Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling stands in front of wind turbines during the opening ceremony of the Braes O'Doune wind farm near Stirling, central Scotland, February 9, 2007. REUTERS/David Moir

Local production of electricity from the wind and sun, for example using roof-top solar panels and micro wind turbines, is attracting increasing subsidy support worldwide as governments try to curb greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Britain has extended to 2010 the deadline for households to apply for some 10 million pounds ($19.87 million) of remaining grants which it had expected to run out this year.

For households, a medium-sized household solar photovoltaic (PV) system is likely to cost more than 10,000 pounds and Britain’s scheme offers a grant of up to 2,500 pounds.

It has also allowed public organizations such as schools to apply for a higher rate of support for the installation of microgeneration technologies, from remaining grants of some 40 million pounds.

Previously schools could only install solar PV panels at the maximum rate of 50 percent of cost, but that is now extended to other technologies such as wind turbines, ground and water source heat pumps and biomass systems.

Earlier this month Britain also relaxed planning restrictions on installations which in the case of solar PV now run into several thousand.

But Japan, Germany and California are leading the way in microgeneration especially in solar.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law in 2006 a “Million Solar Roofs Plan”, and utility Southern California Edison last week announced a project to install solar PV panels on some 160,000 roofs.

Both Germany and Japan already have several hundred thousand roof-top installations each.

Britain plans to consult in the summer on a German-style subsidy regime where utilities pay households a premium for any electricity they produce themselves from renewable sources, called a feed-in tariff.