Today, after many months of delay, the government finally announced its detailed plans for the feed-in tariff. It is a huge disappointment for all of us who want to see communities taking control of their energy production.

The announcement could have heralded a new age in British energy policy, where a large proportion of our energy is produced by individuals and communities through microgeneration, solar panels on the roofs of our schools and homes, small scale hydropower and wind.

It is an approach that has had success in many countries around Europe, where feed-in tariffs have played a fundamental role in promoting renewable energy. In Germany, where feed-in tariffs have been around for years, the total installed solar capacity is around 200 times that of the UK. The Netherlands has 40% of its electricity demand met from decentralised energy.

In every election that Labour has fought since 1997 there has been a renewed commitment to renewable energy, but today renewables still only produce 5% of our power. The European average is 14%. This performance means that the UK comes 25th out of 27 EU countries in the proportion of its energy supplied from renewable sources – behind Malta and Luxembourg.

Given all of this it seems unbelievable that the government did not take the opportunity to announce a more ambitious scheme today. The government's energy cash back scheme aims for only 2% of our energy to be met from microgeneration by 2020. A more generous tariff could have raised this target to 6%. This does not sound much but it is the equivalent of two nuclear power stations of the capacity of Sizewell B.