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Renewable Energy Systems

Energy is classed as renewable energy when it is not depleted when used.

Examples include wind power and solar power, or heating systems which are capable of being naturally and sustainable replenished as in the case of biomass energy.

Government financial incentives have been introduced to encourage households, businesses and other organisations to switch to renewable energy heating systems to reduce the negative impact which burning fossil fuels has on climate change.

Renewable Energy - Solar PV Panels

Government financial incentives are available to reward the installation of renewable energy systems with the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme

The Government will pay a tariff based on the number of kilowatt hours of energy generated for the following renewable energy systems:

Renewable Energy - RHI Tariff Payments 2019

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The Feed in Tariff (which rewarded the installation of solar PV panels) closed to new applications on 31st March 2019.

Solar PV

Solar PV, or Solar Photovoltaic, panels absorb solar energy from the sun which they convert into electricity.  Solar PV panels work in daylight so they don’t need direct sunlight to generate electricity and they still work on cloudy days to create renewable energy.

With solar PV panels generating part of the electricity you use in your home you don’t need to buy as much electricity from your energy provider, so you can save on your electricity bills.

Installing Solar PV panels is fairly straightforward and causes little disruption. Although scaffolding may be required, most domestic solar PV systems can be installed within 2 to 3 days.

Solar PV panels are normally installed onto the roof of your home using roof anchors, mounting rails and clamps. They can also be installed on a flat roof or be ground mounted.

The Feed in Tariff (which rewarded the installation of solar PV panels) closed to new applications on 31st March 2019.

Renewable Energy Solar PV Panels

Biomass Boilers

Biomass boilers generate renewable energy by burning wood to provide heating and hot water, rather than using heating oil, gas or LPG. As a result, biomass boilers tend to be somewhat larger than conventional central heating boilers.

Biomass renewable energy is 50% cheaper than LPG – Biomass boilers are ideal for farms and rural homes which cannot access natural gas because of the relatively high cost of heating oil and LPG, compared to biomass wood pellet fuel.

Using December 2013 prices, biomass energy costs around 4.3 pence per kilowatt hour (kWh), which makes it over 30% cheaper than heating oil (6.4p/kWh) and 50% cheaper than LPG (8.6p/kWh).

Biomass renewable energy heating systems are a mature proven heating technology which has been used extensively in Austria, Denmark and Finland.

The Carbon Trust referred to biomass renewable energy as one of the few “cost effective and practical ways to provide space heating and hot water from a low carbon source”.

Biomass Wood Pellets

Modern condensing biomass boilers are designed to use wood pellets as fuel but in many other respects they operate just like gas and oil-fired boilers.

Biomass fuel wood pellets are fed from an integrated hopper, through an auger (screw type conveyor) into the combustion chamber where they are burned.

This produces hot gases and the heat from these gasses is transferred to water which is distributed around your home’s central heating system and to provide hot water through your taps.

Renewable Energy Biomass Boilers
Renewable Energy - Biomass Boilers
Biomass Wood Pellets
Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems

Solar thermal water heating systems use solar energy from the sun to heat water which can be used in your home’s hot water supply.

Some solar thermal water heating systems are designed to provide both hot water and space heating whilst some provide hot water only

How do solar thermal water heating systems work?

Solar thermal water heating systems have solar collectors fitted onto the roof which have copper pipes inside containing ‘solar fluid’.  This solar fluid absorbs heat from the sun and transfers it to water via a system of coils and pumps.

The hot water produced can be used as part of your domestic hot water supply and the solar fluid is then pumped back to the solar collectors on your roof to be re-heated for the process to continue.

Renewable Energy - Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems
Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps take heat energy from the air outside in the same way that ground source heat pumps take heat energy from below the ground.

In fact air source heat pumps work in a similar way to refrigerators, only in reverse. Both air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps use electricity to pump heat into your home heating system, whether to create space heating via radiators or for your domestic hot water supply.

Although both types of heat pump use electricity, for every one kilowatt hour of electricity they use, they can generate up to four kilowatt hours of renewable energy in the form of heat.  This effectively makes heat pumps up to 400% efficient at generating renewable energy.

Air source heat pumps generate reliable, sustainable and renewable energy by simply moving heat from the air to your domestic central heating system because they are capable of generating renewable energy for your home even when the temperature outside is as low as minus 15ºc.  Consequently, renewable energy generated by air source heat pumps is not affected variations in the amount of available sunlight, limited supplies of fossil fuels or rising fuel prices.  Also, the installation cost of an air source heat pump is much lower than the cost of installing a ground source heat pump because no ground loop is required.

Renewable Energy - Air Source Heat Pumps
Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps take stored heat energy (known as ground source heat) from underground and use it to provide space heating and to provide domestic hot water.

A system of pipes called a ground loop is buried in a trench or in a vertical borehole and the fluid inside these pipes absorbs heat from the ground around it.

Ground source heat pumps are very reliable because the sub-surface soil and rock in the UK remains at around 10º centigrade throughout the year. That is sufficient for these renewable energy systems to provide a sustainable source of renewable energy. 

Whereas the use of fossil fuels such as gas and heating oil extract heat by burning it and giving off potentially harmful carbon emissions, ground source heat pumps merely move the heat energy from underground to your home’s central heating system. 

As a result, ground source heat pumps generate renewable energy without you having to worry about the lack of sunlight, falling supplies of fossil fuels or increasing carbon-based fuel prices.

Renewable Energy - Ground Source Heat Pumps
Renewable Energy - Ground source heat pumps - Ground loop
Ground source heat pump - Ground loop
Why is renewable energy important to us?

Scientists are convinced that the earth’s surface temperature is rising and whether it is due to climate change, global warming or it is a cyclical process, western governments have started to act in promoting renewable energy.

According to the Office of National Statistics, as a result of burning fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions in the UK were 656.3 million tonnes in 2102, with over 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions around the world.  And although there are climate change sceptics who argue against this, most people accept that there is a scientific link between the use of fossil fuels to generate energy and rising global temperatures.

Encouraging the generation of renewable energy such as solar power, wind power and biomass energy is considered a positive move towards limiting the effects of global warming and climate change.

Since ‘doing nothing’ appears not to be an option, western governments are introducing financial incentives to encourage the generation of renewable energy in homes and businesses.