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The question - Energy supply


Last week energy minister Mike O'Brien said wind turbines and solar panels on our houses could become a big part of our future energy mix. Would you install microgeneration?

Has anyone worked out how much energy will be consumed in manufacture, distribution and installation of micro-generation devices compared with what they might save? All houses will still need full mains connections for days on which the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine.

Anthony Taylor, 61, consultant, St Albans If I am allowed the sort of subsidies given to the nuclear power industry, then I will install anything you like.

Chris Johnson, 49, project engineering manager, Stow on the Wold I think we should all do something to help. After all, before the national grid we all had to provide our own power. The advent of the national grid provided an efficient supply of energy but we now tend to rely on it too much. I would be happy to go back to using very local sources of energy. For example, Cornwall has a number of derelict tidal pools and windmills that were used to power grain mills and pump water. On a very individual scale a wind turbine of photovoltaic scale is of greater benefit and less offensive than the plethora of satellite dishes that litter our urban environment.

Rob Andrew, 39, policy development manager, Cornwall Micro-generation is a well intentioned idea that could be applied to new build, but retro fitting existing properties is a nonstarter. Not all houses are structurally adequate to take the weight of solar panels and wind turbines, but that won't stop con men selling unsuitable products with exorbitant commission.

John Sreeves, 46, senior engineer, Swindon I always thought the Good Life had the right idea of electricity from home waste products. At present I have a gas turbine fitted to my boxer dog and manage to power the whole house except the lights.

Andrew Worby, 55, civil engineer/solicitor, Bath Where would be the inducement?

Historically the break-even period for small-scale energy-saving infrastructure has been quite long, and is something you do from commitment not for reward. I suggest the government offers subsidised roof top packages of wind turbine, solar panel, satellite dish and digital TV decoder - ideally with a BMW badge on it.

Then there would be something for everyone to feel good about.

Jon Balley, 53, water engineer, Bucks I might be prepared to put a small windmill on my house but I do not think it would generate a worthwhile amount of power. If somebody paid to completely replace all the tiles on my roof with photovoltaic tiles then I might consider it. Far better to consider wholesale generation of nuclear power.

Ron Herd, retired You might be able to charge your car battery up, but is it really worth the candle? It seems more practical to use redundant farmland for efficient energy collectors. Solar panels are better for heat generation than low voltage generation and they could be used to make houses energy efficient. O'Brien needs to take advice from the engineering profession rather than resort to political gimmicks.

Geoff Home, 55, Director, North Yorkshire

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