When our daily energy requirements are met by ‘Green Energy’, then we are using resources such as wind, tides or geothermal heat. When ‘Green’, they are all thought to be replenishable and natural. When considering elements such as Wind Power and Windmills, in many cases we are looking back at the history of energy production. This idea is preserved by the use of technology, eco-efficient options and planet friendly alternatives.
It is the use of simple renewable energies such as Solar Thermal and Solar Water Heating Collectors, that suits the home environment. It is equipment such as Photovoltaic Panels (PV’s) that develop electricity through suitable roof-panels. Equally important is that of Biomass Energy – which includes Stoves, Fuel, Pellets and Boilers burning Wood. Then we have the ancient energy of the Sun and the heat that comes from it – now called Ground Source Heat Pumps. Considering items such as Wind Power and Hydro Turbines, we are finally getting to very old forms of energy production.
Solar Thermal Energy – By using different technologies, Solar Energy is effectively made up of two types of solar panels. As a first strategy, we have Solar Water Heating Collectors – which basically creates hot water from solar energy. Added to this is the generation of electricity from solar radiation – known as Photovoltaism, or more commonly Solar Electrical panels. To get the best results these panels need to be south facing at an angle of around 30 degrees from horizontal, and away from blockages.
Within Solar Energy overall, Solar Water Power is most commonly used in the UK. Solar Water heating systems are extremely important – and can provide over half of the hot water needs for houses within the UK. The typical cost for installation ranges from 500-1500 pounds for a DIY system, all the way through to 2-5k for a professional fit.
Biomass Energy and ‘Energy Crops’ – This is a ‘capture all’ phrase which includes all natural materials. e.g. Wood, straw and poultry litter – but nowadays also includes modern ‘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. Indeed, within the European Markets, the UK has some of the leading levels of Biomass material at hand. It is the minimal C02 produced, alongside the actual energy production, that makes this attractive to the markets. As each tree felled, it is replaced by another. This helps to reduce the overall effect on C02.
To meet the need, fast growing trees, known as Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) are utilised. Of equal importance is the ability to produce dry matter – and perennial grasses are very good for this. Of equal importance, although maybe less well known, are Municipal and Agricultural Waste. Agricultural Waste is commonly formed as a by-product of traditional agricultural work. However, waste derived from food or wood is another biomass entity – called Municipal Waste.
Geo-Thermal Energy Based Systems – Basically this is the warming of the Earth from the Sun – and is often used in the manufacture of warm water and electricity. 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 every one used. The energy generated by a heat source pump can in fact be considered 100 percent renewable, if the power to operate the pump comes from solar electrical panels or a wind turbine.
Wind Energy Systems: Wind Energy as a sustainable source of energy has been going on for millennia. 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. The ability to utilise wind generation is considered to be greatest in the UK. Potentially, we can produce 10 percent of our annual energy needs through wind power, although at present within the UK we still only use 1 percent. Electricity can be produced from as little as 2p per kWh, but generally comes in somewhere between 2-10p per kWh. Recovery of the cost involved is somewhere between 6-9 months.
Finally, we have Hydropower; an area in which the UK does well within Europe. Just like a thousand years ago, we are utilising the energy from water. Interestingly enough, this type of energy production meets around 2 percent of the UK electrical total demand.
Using a turbine, a Hydropower system can transform the energy of water into other forms. The important thing is that, without having to rely on water storage, the turbines can generate electricity. ‘Micro-Hydro’ however, uses the dam and sluice systems that have been made redundant by the larger national distributions. Although a lesser known form of electricity output, this process could supply 200mW of UK demand. Installing systems like this could cost between 200 pounds and 3k per kW of energy created.
The demand on ‘Green Energy’ continues to develop – in light of the energy demands worldwide. The UK is very well placed to provide most of the schemes set out above, and the UK domestic market again is one of the key beneficiaries of this technology.
It is the drive for installations in the domestic sector that looks to favour jobs such as plumbers and electricians. It is the political view of this type of energy generation that results in grants and financial aid becoming ever-more prevalent. It is important to gain the correct qualifications to install these items. You could consider either plumbing or electrical training programs that highlight green installation.