In a nutshell, ‘Green Energy’ utilises natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat to provide our daily energy requirement. They’re all considered naturally able to replenish and thereby ‘Green’. The older energy skill sets often have value set in times gone by especially when we think of wind power and windmills. This option is preserved by the use of technology, eco-efficient options and planet friendly alternatives.
The home environment for example encompasses a range of energy ideas including Solar Thermal and Solar Water Heating solutions. Next on the list you would find the actual solar electricity Photovoltaic Panels (PV’s) – which basically generate electricity through roof-installed panels. A further factor resolves around stoves and boilers which are known as Biomass Energy. We now also have Ground Source Heat Pumps which is simply the heat from the Sun. Considering items such as Wind Power and Hydro Turbines we are finally getting to very old forms of energy production.
Through a brief review of each we can look at those wanting to train and work in this area and the skills that they will need. Considering the points raised so far, this is expected to be somewhere in the domain of the Plumber, the Gas Engineer and the Electrician. It would be worth gathering information from as many different sources as possible, so check out our other pages on Electrical, Green and Plumbing careers. So it is worth checking out the sites for a variety of training providers as a result bookmark (CTRL-D) this page so you can come back.
Thermal Solar Energy – Often commonly referred to as Solar Energy, this is primarily captured by two types of solar panels; each of which utilises different technologies for the process. As a first draft there are elements absorbing energy from the sun and creating hot water known as Solar Water Heating Collectors. Furthermore, there are the Solar Electrical Panels more correctly known as Photovoltaic heat collectors which changes solar radiation into electricity. To get best results these panels need to be situated 30 degrees from the horizontal, on a south facing roof and obviously free from blockages such as trees and buildings.
For the UK this is often considered the most popular form of ‘Green Energy’. With the ability to provide almost half the annual need for hot water in the house then Solar Water heating systems is very important. The cost of fitting depends on whether you do it yourself – 500 to 1500 pounds or whether you get a professional fit in which it will cost between 2-5k overall.
Biomass Energy Systems – Includes all natural forms derived from plant and animal products such as wood, straw, poultry litter and ‘energy crops’. It’s the ability of this power source to generate diverse forms of energy such as heat and electricity that makes this so adaptable. It is a useful point to make that the UK is one of the major producers of Biomass fuels within Europe. It should be borne in mind that the whole process is designed to produce energy without an impact on CO2. That being said the process where each tree felled is replaced by another helps to reduce the overall effect on C02 as a part of energy produced.
By the growth of Short Rotation Crops (SRC) the UK is able to maximise the ‘Energy Crops’ return against the plant production overall. Of equal importance is the production of perennial grasses because of their yield of dry matter. Whilst Agricultural and Municipal waste may appear lesser known they are essential to the whole process. Agricultural Waste is commonly formed as a by-product of traditional work in agriculture. Because it comes from food or wood Municipal Waste is also considered a useful biomass product.
Geo-Thermal Energy Systems… This is where both warm water and electricity can be produced as by products of the natural heating of the Earth by the Sun. By using the ground source temperature of approximately 12 degrees we can either heat or cool buildings within the UK. Heat pumps are recognised as a very good form of power generation generally giving back four units of energy for everyone used. Without a doubt the energy generated from wind turbines and solar electrical panels alongside heat source pumps can be almost 100 percent renewable.
Wind Energy: When you consider the milling of grain and pumping of water it is easy to see how long wind energy has been with us. However, in more recent times there’s been the option to recover the energy for its own sake – and deliver this either to a home unit or to the local power grid. With regard to wind generation it is the UK that has the highest production within Europe. The fact remains that in the UK there exists the ability to realise 10 percent of our electricity requirement from wind power as opposed to the current value of 1 percent. Frankly, electricity can be realised from as little as 2p per kWh as opposed to the current level of 2-10 p per kWh. Recovery of the cost involved is somewhere between 6-9 months.
Hydropower is a subject that suits the UK energy production system according to the news. Having said that the art of using energy from moving water, as like wind power is very traditional. Interestingly enough this type of energy production meets 2 percent of the UK electrical demand in total.
A hydropower system transforms the kinetic energy of the moving water into another type of energy by means of a turbine. The important thing is that without relying on water storage the turbines can generate electricity. ‘Micro-Hydro’ utilises a chunk of the outdated sluices and dam systems that have been killed off by the large national distribution methods. Whilst considered a small form of electrical output this system has been thought to be able to give some 200mW of capacity to the UK. The capital cost of installing a micro-hydro system can run between 200 and 3000 pounds per kW of energy output.
It can be seen that the route to ‘Green Energy’ is growing considerably, especially in light of the need for increasing energy outputs throughout the Western World. To be fair, the UK domestic market is leading the resurgence with the variety of schemes detailed above.
It is the drive for installations in the domestic sector that looks to favour jobs such as plumbers and electricians. With EEC and UK recognition of renewable energy getting ever-higher on the political agenda, the grants and financial aid for introduction of these systems can only increase. As a new industry, there are a range of new certificates to gain whether new or coming to this industry from a likeminded source. Training such as electrical or plumbing that incorporates green technology would be very useful for the future.
Remember, be green!