Following the launch of Britain’s feed-in tariff program in 2010, the country has pushed ahead of the United States in the installation of small wind turbine capacity in 2011, with the same expected for 2012. This is an astounding achievement considering that the US has been promoting small wind for the past two decades, whereas the British FiT program is barely two years old.
Britain saw 23 megawatts of small wind installed in 2011, whereas the US only managed 19 megawatts in the same year. From the introduction of the FiT to 2011, small wind capacity in Britain grew by approximately 50 percent. And though Britain is still well behind the market leaders — USA and China, who have both had programs running for the past two decades — the real surprise is that Britain can get up and surpass the US in terms of new installations with a program barely two years old in.
The British FiT program has been based on “microgeneration,” a system predicated on the “cost of generation plus a reasonable profit” model. In the British program, utilities simply pay a fixed tariff for electricity from microgenerators, and then recover their costs from ratepayers as they do for any other generation.
The tariffs are determined by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Thus, the “tariffs” or prices paid for generation from small wind turbines in Britain vary by size.
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