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Posted by: matt wilby on 01/07/2011

On the 22nd of June 2011, DECC launched their new Microgeneration Strategy accompanied by a Microgeneration Industry Contact Group Action Plan. The strategy covers installations designed for generating less than 50kw for electricity and less than 300kw for heat. In line with the terms of the Green Energy Act 2009, the strategy is restricted to England only, although some proposals may apply across Great Britain.

So what does this mean for the future of microgenertion?

Well the short answer is not a lot, for the time being anyway.
The document serves to outline the guiding principles to steer development and in the short-term, focus is upon increasing awareness, functionality and installation.

Aptly, DECC’s latest strategy has been described as a “wedding without the bride” as it draws focus upon the “non-financial barriers” such as quality and standards, skills and knowledge, technology and communities. The idea is that the proposed strategy will move the microgeneration industry closer to breaking into the high street..

Gregg Baker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change has outlined that a major part of creating a low-carbon energy culture lies within cost constraints. Whilst he underlines the financial incentives that the Government is planning, he is clear the industry “must achieve cost reductions to ensure that this support is affordable and offers real value for money”; sadly arbitrary budgets and purely fiscal comparison with fossil fuel generation (without externalities priced) seems to be the default for renewable subsidies at the moment with the government being increasingly frugal. The concept of grid parity (and support in the interim) seems to be absent from the discussion.

Whist “supporting” the strategy, the government has distanced itself somewhat. “Eventually we (DECC) expect that the industry can (move into the energy mainstream) without the need for additional support. The onus is on the industry itself to make the most of the opportunities presented by the financial incentives”. None the less whilst the true cost of fossil fuels remain external to the consumer price renewable are not competing on an even playing field.

The following are important aspects in their own right, but it is DECC’s review of Feed-in Tariff (FIT) that the microgeneration industry will be eagerly anticipating.

See the link below for more information on the FIT review process.

The key actions…for more information refer to Regen SW excellent summary as below

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)
There are several actions discussed regarding the improvement of MCS. One of the primary outcomes is the decision to re-establish the MCS as a freestanding, not-for-profit company.. Equally as important will be the consideration within the review of the FITs to withdraw the exclusive link between micro hydro and the MCS for the purpose of eligibility within the Feed-in Tariff. As well as this, there will be a potential revision of the MCS heat pump standard.

To be eligible for the FiT you will need to meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency. MCS will formally include competence within the Micogeneration Installation Standards (MIS) as part of the MSC installer scheme requirements and specialist installers may need to consider whether to expand their services or partner with others

Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP)
It is envisaged that a new regulatory and assessment framework will be developed to accurately assess the impact and contribution of microgeneration technologies to homes and buildings. Consultation September 2011.

Insurance and Warranties
The government wishes to produce a new document in which they will outline the life expectancy and maintenance and servicing requirements for each type of technology and review current consumer protection schemes.

Skills and Knowledge
The strategy sets out to map a tangible training provision and develop a plan for installer skills and system design in order to ensure there are sufficient skill levels in the industry.

Again the onus is on the industry alone to “identify specific actions that can be taken over the next 12 months to promote a systems approach to installing microgeneration technologies”.

There is discussion of improving grid connection for microgeneration technologies with DECC promising to “facilitate informal contact” between the industry contact group and Ofgem energy network”; what the merit of ‘informal contacts’ is open to debate.

The strategy outlines the requirement “to develop a plan to market the concept of microgeneration and the potential benefits” for potential consumers.

Community Scale Energy
The strategy recognises that community scale energy is beyond its scope but emphasizes that the government is still keen on promoting it and includes a commitment to “work with partners to communicate opportunities to the investment community with a view to establishing opportunities for ‘at risk’ project investment and debt finance that meets community needs”.

So I sceptic might see the above as warm words with limited financial backbone. I for one think the FIT review will be where the government really pins it colours to the mast in terms of enabling renewable to achieve grid parity and be accepted as mainstream – not sure about highstreet availability but time will tell…

Categories: Ecological Contracting
Tags: Mircrogeneration community renewables
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