The study from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) examined technologies generating 50 – 100 kW, including small wind, solar PV, small hydro, ground source heat pumps, biomass, and small CHP, and also looked at barriers to the widespread installation of such technologies.

Three major barriers to the development of microgeneration are legislation, including difficulties with planning permission, high costs including the costs of smart metering, and a lack of consumer awareness, along with limited targets and incentives for renewable heat.

There are currently less than 100,000 microgeneration installations in the UK, most of which are solar water heaters although the majority of growth comes from solar water heaters and solar PV in response to grant schemes. Installations of ground source heat pumps and small wind turbines is also increasing rapidly stimulated by the Clear Skies SCHRI program and rapid cost reductions, says the report.

Micro-CHP is only just beginning to enter the market, the study finds, but there is a very large technical effort on both Stirling engine and fuel cell technologies.

The report, Potential for Microgeneration, study and analysis, also concludes that carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by close to 15% by 2050 as a result of adopting microgeneration.

Philip Sellwood chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: “Over the next 10 to 40 years a large proportion of homes in the UK could be generating their own energy, saving tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and helping to prevent climate change.”

The research, undertaken by the EST in conjunction with Element Energy Limited, E-Connect and Cambridge University Faculty of Economics, will inform the DTI’s Low Carbon Building programme to be published in spring 2006.