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A power station in the airing cupboard

PUBLISHED: 16:38 12 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

HUNDREDS of mini Sizewells could soon be cropping up in airing cupboards across Suffolk after Ipswich was chosen to trial some revolutionary new equipment.

HUNDREDS of mini Sizewells could soon be cropping up in airing cupboards across Suffolk after Ipswich was chosen to trial some revolutionary new equipment.

Around 200 mini power stations, which work as a boiler and also generate electricity, are set to be installed in homes around the town in a unique trial.

The systems provide the majority of household energy needs at the flick of a switch and are expected to save the average family £150 per year.

Over £14million and 200 man-years have been invested in the design and Ipswich has been chosen as the first town in the world to trial them from September.

Small enough to fit in a kitchen or airing cupboard, each unit is powered by a mains gas supply and provides heating and hot water like a normal boiler.

It also contains a generator, which produces electricity from the same gas supply to power lights and other electrical equipment such as televisions and hi-fis.

No final cost has been put on the appliances but it is estimated at least 30 per cent of households in the UK will be hooked up by 2020. It is also hoped they will reduce carbon emissions by 20pc.

Richard Tait, of Ipswich, has been using the unit for the past four months in a pre-trial test.

He said: "I work from home, which means I need to heat the house and keep lights on during the day as well as power my pc and office equipment.

"The system is the perfect solution for me. I'd love to keep the boiler beyond the trial period as I'm saving money and also because I'm interested in green issues. It's good to be doing my bit."

The technology is known as micro-combined heat and power and any surplus electricity is bought back from the customers by the power company.

Paul Golby, of Powergen, which has invented the system in conjunction with Whispertech, said: "We're proud to be at the forefront of developing a technology that will have such a significant impact on home energy usage.

"This world first represents a huge step forward for the industry, the consumer and the environment and we're pleased to be able to offer it first to our customers in Suffolk."

Further details about how to get involved in the trial will be released by the company as the launch date draws closer, he added.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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