Home Energy Team
Plymouth City Council
Plymouth PL1 2AA
Renewable energy is generated from sources that will not run out – principally sun, wind, water, and bio-mass (wood). Micro-generation is energy that is generated on a small scale, usually on an individual property or street level.
Micro-generation technology now allows you to generate your own renewable electricity and current government incentives also pay you an income for generating it. The individual technologies are detailed below.
Solar Photo Voltaic
Photo Volatic (PV) panels produce electricity by converting light from the sun into electricity. Solar PV is not new; the process was first discovered in 1887, however the technology which allows us to really benefit from PV has advanced considerably in recent years.
For more information visit the solar panels page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Solar thermal panels use the energy from the sun to produce hot water. Solar thermal systems also use a very efficient hot water store to make the most of the suns free energy. Panels can be placed on any suitable roof surface and would typically provide 60 to 70 per cent of your annual hot water needs. Solar thermal panels provide hot water for washing etc, not for central heating.
For more information visit the solar water heating page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Solar photo voltaic thermal
Solar photo voltaic thermal (PvT) panels are a very new technology. They combine a solar thermal panel with a photo voltaic panel. This not only maximises use of space but also increases the efficiency of the photo voltaic cells. There is limited information available at the moment on this type of panel.
Heat pumps use the heat from a specific source (usually the ground, the air, or water) and convert it into a form of heat that can be used to heat a property. Heat pumps are not usually recommended for properties that have access to the gas network. This is because a gas central heating system using an ‘A’ rated boiler will be cheaper to run. For properties off the gas network heat pumps can offer a real alternative to expensive oil fired systems.
For more information visit the ground source heat pumps page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Forty per cent of all wind energy in Europe blows across the UK so we are ideally placed to make the most of this free resource. Large wind turbines are becoming an increasingly common sight across the UK, although smaller domestic sized turbines are still relatively uncommon. As the blades of the turbine catch the wind and rotate they drive a turbine which generates electricity. In some cases smaller turbines can be mounted on the roof of a property.
To find out if you are in a suitable location to use wind power and for more information visit the wind turbines page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Micro combined heat and power
Micro combined heat and power (CHP) is a technology that can generate heat and electricity simultaneously from one source. In domestic premises the main output of a micro CHP boiler is heat, with electricity being produced at a ratio of around six units of heat to one unit of electricity. Micro CHP is considered a ‘low carbon’ technology because it is a more efficient process than just burning the fossil fuel and obtaining electricity from the national grid. It should be remembered that micro CHP systems only produce electricity when there is a heat demand and as such are most effective in properties that have a high heat demand.
For more information visit the micro combined heat and power page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Hydro electric power systems use running water to drive a turbine and generate electricity. This form of renewable energy is very site specific as it obviously requires a nearby water course.
For more information visit the hydroelectricity page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Feed in tariff
The feed in tariff (Fit) began in April 2010. It provides a set income for anyone installing a system of up to 5 megawatts. The Fit’s cover the following technologies:
- Solar electricity (PV) (roof mounted or stand alone)
- Wind turbine (building mounted or free standing)
- Anaerobic digestion
- Micro combined heat and power (micro CHP) (limited to a pilot at this stage)
The amount paid differs depending on the technology installed and is currently being reviewed. Based on current tarrif levels (January 2012) an average sized solar pv system of 2.2 Kwh could expect to receive an income of £770, an additional export payment of £30, and a £130 saving off the electricity bill.
For more information visit the feed-in tariffs scheme page on the Energy Saving Trust website.
Renewable heat incentive (RHI)
The renewable heat incentive is expected to be launched at the end of 2012 for domestic premises. Much like the Fit it will give householders an income for generating their own heat. Full details are expected towards the end of this year although it is likely that the following technologies will be eligible:
- Air, water and ground-source heat pumps
- Solar thermal
- Biomass boilers
- Renewable combined heat and power
- Use of biogas and bioliquids
- Injection of biomethane into the natural gas grid.
For more infromation visit the Department for Energy and Climate Change website.