Saturday, 8 December 2007

Tories see 1m households selling electricity

At least 1m households and businesses in Britain could be generating large amounts of electricity for the grid within a decade, but it will need an overhaul of the electricity supply industry, the Conservative party said yesterday.

The party would create a mass market for decentralised "micro-energy" by encouraging everyone to invest in their own solar power and other renewable electricity generating schemes. A guaranteed price for the electricity generated in homes would be paid, with a further guarantee to run the scheme for at least 20 years.

The "feed-in tariff" scheme proposed by the Conservatives would bring Britain into line with Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries where householders and businesses generate electricity from rooftops, gardens and buildings.

In Germany more than 300,000 solar systems have been installed in three years and micro-generation provides nearly 12% of all the country's electricity. Householders can earn 8% to 10% returns on investing in their own home systems and in some cases pay their mortgages with the income earned.

Take-up of micro-power has been very slow in Britain, where no incentives are paid to small scale electricity generators. "We need to move from a top down, old world, centralised electricity system to a bottom up, new world decentralised system," said David Cameron. The party leader has applied to instal a small wind turbine on his roof but it is not yet working.

By John Vidal

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