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Microgeneration high among Tory proposals

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 January 2009 at 9:07 am

Large scale use of renewables are part of the Conservative party's plans for a low carbon economy published last week. With a feed-in tariff, they hope homes, businesses, schools and hospitals will contribute the electricity they produce into the national grid, earning money in the process.

To make this possible they plan to transform the national grid, which is currently a highly centralised system, into a 'smart grid', with 'smart meters' in people's homes, so that demand and supply can be 'intelligently managed'. So when the wind is blowing hard, and there's plenty of excess electricity supply, it will be cheaper to run the dishwasher or charge your electric car. On a larger scale, the grid could be joined to Europe, so if we've got more than we need, we can export it and vice versa.

As with many political proposals, it sounds lovely, but there's not much detail of how they are going to do it or what it's going to cost. As Chris Goodall, writing in the Guardian, points out, the National Grid is a privately owned company with shareholders, and they may not think that it will be profitable to the significant investments necessary to transform it into a smart grid.

Also proposed is a scheme that entitles every home to be fitted immediately with up to £6,500 of approved energy efficiency improvements. This would be done by energy companies, and repaid through fuel bills over a 25 year period. They claim it would lead to immediate reductions in gas and electricity bills for households who took part despite the repayments. The other benefit would be the new green jobs created, which have been so much talked about recently and so little seen so far.

So full marks to the Tories for vision, for enthusiasm and for giving priority to the move to a low carbon economy. I look forward to hearing some detail about how they intend to make it all happen, and how much it will cost.

Photo by Abulic Monkey

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