Micro - generation is in my opinion the way forward, but more re hydro, solar thermal and wind. In this country we have the advantage in wind and river/sea power. However the push has been for large ugly intrusive schemes with an often detrimental environmental effect.
Why not harness a local stream to power a few houses or a small village, cf a small wind turbine system. Eventually you may only need large power generation for the major cities (I know thats a bit futuristic).
Now regarding Solar Power, Photovoltaics only lead to a return after 25years, but none have yet been shown to last 25years. I know the cost is dropping, but the heavy metals used in their construction are environmentally damaging and ultimately unsustainable. Solar Thermal on the other hand just involves running a pipe matrix (like a car radiator) through a sunlight absorbing container. Its much simpler/cheaper/ and reliable than PV cells its the way forward.
I can remember a farmer I worked for as a boy back in 1978 who used a few 100m of black plastic water pipe coiled around his swimming pool attached to a small pump this easily provided for the pools heating needs, innovative in those days
I wouldn't class river/sea power as microgeneration. I totally agree that solar water heating is the only system that's likely to give a reasonable payback. A guy in one of the videos has clad the whole of the roof of his large, expensive looking house with PV's and I guess he has enough money to be able to pay for being seen to be "green".
Here in Northern Spain, I'm in the ideal spot to take advantage of the sun but the received wisdom here is that unless you have no access to the grid then only solar water heating is viable. I like the story of the farmer and his black plastic pipes. If I turn on my 25m length of green hose pipe after it's been laying in the sun for a couple of hours, I get enough heated water to do a bowl of washing up (should I be so inclined) so I know what a couple of hundred meters of 32mm black alkathene pipe would produce. Talking of hose pipes, I also have a yellow one and the last time I used it, it appeared to be blocked at the nozzle with green leaves. Further investigation showed it was actually lumps of sheet algae that had formed on the walls of the pipe as the yellow colur makes it translucent. No trouble with the green one. You live and learn.
Thanks for your reply. To clarify my 'vision' re hydro/wind microgeneration I agree these could be considered not 'micro', but say you had a small propellor driven generator that you could chuck into a small fast flowing stream tether it to the bank a harvest the electricity. Its a thought, anybody fancy making one!
For heating I used wood burners for many years in New Zealand and found them to be not only economical but aesthetically pleasing....and they are intially cheaper to instal. The double burning means they have virtually no emission and the fuel is from a renewable resource. There are models that also heat your water for radiators or household use and there are sizes to fit most existing fireplaces. I found quite a few on e-bay for as little as £200 and any corgi registered plumber can fit it. Just a thought. :)
Hey John - My brother in law did the same to heat their swimming pool! More smart people out there than you think :)
I've recently sold an arch to a retired lady architect in Kent, who has along with her husband designed and had built a house with PV roof tiles which actually look like tiles not panels she has promised to send me photos.