Micro generating, or small-scale power generation for domestic use, is growing in popularity for residential development. As more retailers manufacture and sell small-scale renewable energy sources like wind turbines and panels, more homes and communities are banking on the opportunity to produce "free" energy. Free, here, of course doesn't mean literally. The upfront costs of renewable energy installation are still high, though slowly decreasing, but once that initial investment is paid off home owners are able to meet much of their own electricity needs without a monthly bill.

Micro generation is also gaining momentum in the commercial and industrial sectors, with big names like Wal-Mart pledging to have all their stores powered by renewable energy. Aside from reduced emissions from renewable energy sources, micro generation means independence from the larger grid. For communities at-risk of grid stresses like brownouts or storm outages, independence from the grid means being plugged in when others aren't.

Here are some benefits and drawbacks of onsite generation from the Energy Collective:

Business Benefits

Possible lower prices

More sustainable business

Green credentials

Increased property value

Sell back excess to the grid

A level of control over continuity of supply

Industry Benefits

More reserves of fossil fuels

Charge higher rates for supply

Buy microgen energy at low price

Use others as generators – less reliant on their own

Business Drawbacks

Purchase energy at a higher rate when needed

Large initial investment

Maintenance of equipment

Space required for installation

Must be signed off by officials

Industry Drawbacks

Less contracts/ less revenue/profit

Loss of market share

No investment in energy infrastructure

Read more about the costs and benefits of micro generation from The Energy Collective.