Analysis from the Renewable Energy Foundation shows that small hydro power schemes are the best performers when it comes to offering high load energy under the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
The REF have compiled a database using material released quarterly by Ofgem following a Freedom of Information request by REF in 2010.
A good load factor means that hydro is producing a lot of energy for the size of output.
Dr Lee Moroney, Director of Planning for REF said: “Our data analysis shows that small hydro is producing respectable volumes of renewable electricity and satisfactory returns on investment, yet it has been overlooked in comparison with domestic solar PV. Given the scale of the targets before us, adoption of a broader range of microgeneration would be desirable.”
Other key findings are:
-Growth in small solar photovoltaic projects accounts for nearly all the increase in installed renewable microgeneration.
-The geographic location of favoured areas for solar PV includes significant concentrations in Sheffield, Barnsley, and Rotherham, suggesting that factors other than resource availability are driving adoption.
-Historical average annual load factors for all microgenerators suggest that small hydro could deliver more energy than micro PV or wind, with the better hydro sites able to command good returns for investors.
-The FiTS generators installed at 31 March 2011 would generate approximately 140 GWh per annum, which is 0.1% of the 119 TWh required to meet the EU 2020 target for 15% of renewable energy.
-Government expects that the FiT scheme will deliver 6 TWh of renewable electricity in 2020. This is would require current output to increase more than 40 times in 9 years.
There are currently 203 small hydro schemes operating under the Feed-in Tariff in the UK at a total capacity of 10.9MW.
The REF aim to raise public awareness of the issues and encourage informed debate regarding a structured energy policy that is both ecologically sensitive and practical.