Since Sarah Boyack MSP launched her Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration Bill proposal, and Shiona Baird MSP launched her Green Micropower Bill, both in the Scottish Parliament in December 2005, microgeneration has shot to the top of the agenda. Mark Lazarowicz MP’s Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act has received Royal Assent in Westminster; the UK Government’s Energy Review report included a whole chapter on “Decentralised Energy”; the Government committed itself to “aggressively implementing” its Microgeneration Strategy; and D.I.Y. stores have even started to sell solar panels and small roof top wind turbines.
The UK government says it will launch a consultation in early summer 2008 on a new strategy to meet the European Union's 2020 renewable-energy target, and this will include looking at proposals to boost microgeneration.
Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government issued Scottish Planning Policy Document (SSP6) in March 2007, which should ensure that all new building developments over 500 square metres set a target for a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions. But research by Friends of the Earth Scotland suggest that local authorities are being slow to implement SPP6.
Malcolm Chisholm MSP, the then Communities Minister, proposed allowing residents in Scotland – including in conservation areas - to erect rooftop wind turbines and other renewable generation without planning permission. Currently, all householders have to apply to councils for permission to erect the devices, a process which can take more than six months and cost hundreds of pounds. The promised consultation on giving microgeneration permitted development status only appeared at the beginning of March 2008.
The new Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill Consultation Document says the Government is committed to promoting micro-generation. All this is very welcome, but much more radical action is required if microgeneration is going to make the vital contribution we need it to make to tackle climate change and fuel poverty.
This website has been established by a group of environmental and fuel poverty groups to push this agenda forward, and, in particular, to support Sarah Boyack MSP’s Bill. Not only do we need to make sure the requirement for micro-generation installations on existing houses to obtain planning permission is ended, but we also need to seriously look at implementing fiscal measures to encourage enough people to kick-start the microgeneration market and ensure it is an affordable option for more people We also need to make the requirements for new buildings tough enough to move us towards zero carbon buildings, as promised by the UK Energy Review, as quickly as possible.
The era of cheap domestic power is now clearly over. Gas and electricity prices have risen several times in the past year. We know from the Scottish House Condition Survey that every 5% increase in fuel costs drags 40,000 Scottish households back into fuel poverty. Barnardo’s estimates that 46,000 children live in fuel poverty. The UK Government is struggling to meet its target of eliminating fuel poverty by 2016, yet eight old people are dying every hour from cold related illnesses during the winter months. That must end. We need to ensure that those suffering from fuel poverty can also benefit from these new technologies.
It is now widely recognised that climate change is the single most important long-term threat facing our planet. The UK Government has accepted that we need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60% by 2050. This may seem a long way off, but many buildings constructed today will hopefully still be standing mid way through this century, so we need to start designing buildings now more appropriate for a world with much smaller carbon emissions. And we need to start reducing emissions now from our existing buildings rather than leaving it until 2040, or the problem will be much harder to tackle.
We will also seek to explain how microgeneration fits in to the wider agenda of promoting Decentralised Energy and indeed other zero and low carbon technologies. Microgeneration is not a substitute for what we need to do on Energy Efficiency, Combined Heat and Power and larger scale renewable projects. Although microgeneration can make a major contribution to energy supplies and reducing carbon emissions by 2020, we believe it has a much larger role to play than just producing kilowatts at the point of use. Not only is this technology inspiring to people who are concerned about climate change and feel powerless to do anything to help, but it also encourages the public to take more interest in the energy which they consume and find ways to use it more efficiently.
There are some superb initiatives around Scotland.
Just in Edinburgh there are solar panels at both Napier and Edinburgh Universities,
and sheltered housing at Saughton Mains; a ground source heat pump using
energy from underground in Cramond; and small-scale wind on sheltered housing
at Haymarket and Stenhouse Mill. But progress really needs to be
We will be seeking discussions with Local Authorities, Housing Associations and a range of renewable energy companies about how we can move microgeneration from a few demonstration projects to something which is incorporated as a matter of course into many of our buildings and everyday lifestyles.
We hope this website will inspire you to jump on our bandwagon, join with us to tackle the barriers to the introduction of these new technologies and help us sweep away the institutional inertia. We all need to make vital contributions to tackling climate change. Hopefully this website will provide you with some of the tools to get started.
David Manion, Age Concern Scotland
Maureen Fraser, Barnardos Scotland
Norman Kerr, Energy Action Scotland
Pete Roche, Energy Consultant
Eddie Follan, Energywatch Scotland
Duncan McLaren, Friends of the Earth Scotland
David Cameron, Scottish Renewables,
Jessica Pepper, WWF Scotland.