UK plan for microgeneration, including small hydro, released

The UK has released an action plan to promote microgeneration and decentralized energy in the country, including measures that allow greater flexibility for the development of small hydropower.

The strategy includes actions to improve the Microgeneration Certification Scheme process, making it work more effectively for SMEs while continuing to protect consumers – for example by allowing greater flexibility in the treatment of small hydro installations. This will be taken forward through the Feed-in Tariffs comprehensive review launched later this summer.

The British Hydropower Association said it welcomes the government's recently-announced strategy. As far as hydropower development is concerned, the strategy is timely and finally acknowledges that micro hydro is substantially different from other technologies such as wind and solar, the association said.

British Hydropower Association Chief Executive David Williams said: "Micro hydro has been around for millennia – the most common form being the watermill, the rural and industrial powerhouse of the world prior to fossil fuel power and grid systems. Mills are now electricity generators exporting power to the grid and mill and landowners, farmers and communities can now develop clean and efficient projects and the government's Feed-in Tariff is the ideal incentive to do this.

That is, apart from schemes up to 50 kW which were required to qualify under the MCS accreditation system designed for all renewable energy technologies.

"Unfortunately MCS just was not appropriate for hydro developments which are already rigorously regulated under environmental and planning consenting requirements. The assumption that a householder could just visit his local supermarket and buy a water turbine generating unit and then get it installed and therefore had to be protected from rogue manufacturers and installers is not appropriate. This was causing potential developers extra angst and uncertain costs from a system which was supposed to remove these barriers. As a result, projects were being shelved." He continued.

"It is therefore with great relief that the new government strategy states that it is to withdraw the exclusive link between micro hydro and the MCS for the purpose of Feed-in Tariff eligibility."

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