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Generating renewable energy

Information about options for generating renewable energy

What is it?

Renewable energy generation is the production of heat and electricity on a small scale by individuals, small businesses, and communities to meet their own needs as alternatives or supplements to traditional centralised grid-connected power. It has gained popularity as demand for better alternatives to fossil fuels to reduce carbon emissions from energy generation has increased.

Renewable generation can greatly offset your or your family's energy use, reducing your reliance on non-renewable energy sources, lowering energy bills, and taking a small step toward going green.

How does it work?

Renewable generation can be achieved in a variety of ways. Some power sources are reasonably priced and practical for homeowners, while others are a little more expensive to begin with. Depending on where you live, the size of your property, and the altitude, different power sources will be practical in your home. Renewable technologies include small-scale wind turbines, micro hydro, solar PV systems, microbial fuel cells, ground source heat pumps, and micro combined heat and power installations. Some of the most popular and accessible technologies are:

Solar PV system

Solar panels, or the photovoltaic panels, are one of the most widely used microgeneration technologies. Even in the United Kingdom, they can be useful because modern panels have advanced to the point where you don't need direct sunlight to generate power. However, you will require a sufficient amount of daylight, and the more sun exposure your property receives, the better.

Small wind turbines

Wind turbines, as their name implies, harness the power of the wind. They usually need to be in an open area and stand between two and eight metres tall to be useful. The amount of energy a wind turbine can generate depends on amount of wind present in the area and how efficient the technology is. On farmland or larger private properties, they can be a useful source of energy.

Micro hydro turbines

Hydro turbines are a reasonable solution for those who have a source of flowing water on their property, such as a stream. The water spins a generator that generates electricity. Because water does not stop flowing, energy is generated 24 hours a day, unlike PV panels or wind turbines, which are subject to the weather.

Ground source heat pump

Ground source heat pumps take heat from the earth through underground pipes, which is then used to heat radiators or provide underfloor heating. This is a good option for people who heat their homes with electricity or coal and have a garden with enough space to dig a trench deep enough for the underground loop.

Why choose renewable energy generation?

  • You don’t have to rely entirely on the power grid
  • You can reduce your energy bill by generating your own energy and selling the surplus. You can claim money for exporting any excess electricity your solar panels generate through your energy provider Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
  • You can reduce your carbon footprint by switching to renewables from fossil fuel.

The UK government’s initiatives on renewable generation

The UK government provides grants as well as feedback payments to help businesses, communities, and private households in putting in these technologies. Businesses can take out the entire cost of installation from their taxable profits, while homeowners receive a flat-rate grant or payments per kW h of electricity generated and returned to the grid.

Options to consider: