Thursday, December 06, 2007

Power From The People

By Cernig

Just yesterday, I was wondering why, if whole cities in Iraq can be outfitted with solar-powered street lighting by the U.S. military, the same lights aren't already in widespread use in Arizona, Texas etc.

Today, the UK Conservative Party announced that it wants to emulate another no-brainer idea, this one from mainland Europe.
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 Tories seem to have one-upped Labour's Brown, an advocate of green policies and combatting global warming - on this idea. Congratulations and give the policy wonk responsible a raise.

The effects would be to lower individuals' power bills, break up power generation monopolies, lower carbon emissions, reduce dependency on foreign oil and it's a free market initiative. What's not to like?

Which U.S. party will be first to steal it in time to make it part of their 2008 platform?

(H/T: Kat)

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